Hollywood actor Gary Sinise, a longtime supporter of U.S. military veterans and their families, visited San Diego Saturday to put on a show with his band, the Lt. Dan Band.
Sinise, who runs The Gary Sinise Foundation, dropped into Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) for his organization's 5th annual Invincible Spirit Festival, an event that aims to show appreciation for veterans and their families, and the sacrifices they've made.
The fest included food created by celebrity chef Robert Irvine, special prize giveaways, face painting for kids and an eclectic car show.
The headliner was a performance by Sinise's band, whose namesake is inspired by the actor's iconic role as wounded U.S. military veteran Lt. Dan in the film, "Forrest Gump."
The Invincible Spirit Festivals are one of the many causes organized by the Gary Sinise Foundation to honor the organization's mission to support veterans and their families.
“I’m inspired each and every day by the men and women who serve our country,” Sinse told NBC 7 on Saturday. “This is a full time thing for me — I started the foundation so that we could be an effective resource for our fellow citizens, too, who want to support the military.”
The advocate for veterans also makes sure that those working for his foundation can relate to the men and women they help support.
Ambassador to the Gary Sinise Foundation and retired U.S. Marine Core Colonel Jay Vargas understands the importance of having veterans who served in the military work for the foundation. Col. Vargas helps counsel and provides resources for families and vets on suicide prevention measures, and understands the struggle of having PTSD.
“The troops like that. They like to hear from somebody who’s been through it,” he tells NBC 7.
For the staff that work at NMCSD, this event reminds them of how important the work is that they do on a daily basis.
"[It] feels like we are supported," NMCSD staffer Teresa Miller said. "I think that a lot of people are under the impression that warriors are not getting wounded. We still have people out on the front lines and they are still getting wounded, and that’s our job to take care of them. We’re excited to see people coming out and supporting our troops.”
Fellow employee Natasha Wooden shares the same passion for helping those recovering at NMCSD.
“Every day I wake up and I’m excited to come here to work. I know that the patients are going to be here waiting and we’re here to help them get better and continuing the legacy of what we do here as military and civilian employees.”
For Chief Petty Officer Larry Deleon, the sense of community that the Invincible Spirit Fest invokes reminds him of the importance of helping those who strengthen this community.
“As a fellow active duty, we’re here to help out each other -- retirees, and veterans. It puts a little notch in your heat knowing that everybody is here for the cause, taking care of everybody,” he said.