‘New Generation of Lt. Dans’ Bonds Gary Sinise to Role as Veterans Advocate

His role as veteran advocate came long before his role in "Forest Gump."

— -- Actor Gary Sinise’s role as advocate for America’s veterans came long before his role as Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan in the 1994 blockbuster “Forest Gump.”

“I had been actively involved with veterans' groups going back to the late '70s and early '80s, Vietnam veterans particularly because I have them in my family,” Sinese said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Years later, the actor would establish the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to help honor and create support programs for veterans coming home from war. These days, he says, it’s the post-9/11 generation of veterans that keeps both his character and his foundation close to his heart.

“I didn't know until after September 11, though, when we had this new generation of Lieutenant Dans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, that that role would continue to play a part in my life,” adding that being recognized for the movie lets him share the character’s “resilient story.”

“He's OK in the end and that's what we want for all our wounded coming back from the war,” he said.

Still, Sinese said, “I always say that we can never do enough for our veterans. We can always try to do more."