Actor Gary Sinise visits veterans at Augusta VA

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For a mostly homebound veteran such as Jim Fowler, a visit from actor Gary Sinise was a bright spot in a humdrum day.

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Actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, met combat medic Brian Min and therapist April Neel on a visit Thursday to the uptown Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He later held a concert.  KYLE MARTIN/STAFF
KYLE MARTIN/STAFF
Actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, met combat medic Brian Min and therapist April Neel on a visit Thursday to the uptown Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He later held a concert.

Fowler, who served with the Air Force in Vietnam, was undergoing therapy Thursday morning at Augusta’s uptown Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center when Sinise dropped by to shake hands with veterans and active-duty service members. Sinise, perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump, was in town for a free concert Thursday night with his Lt. Dan Band at Fort Gordon’s Barton Field.

The stop at the VA is one of several Sinise has made in Augusta in advance of the performance and one of many he regularly makes throughout the year at stateside and international military installations, but it was a unique moment for Fowler and other veterans, including Army retiree Allen McDaniel.

“He really is the epitome of someone who cares for soldiers,” McDaniel said.

The Gary Sinise foundation was formed in 2010, but Sinise’s work with veterans goes back to the early 1980s, when he was artistic director at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. He worked closely with Vietnam veterans during the production of a play about the war and began a series of free performances for them. Sinise later drew on that experience to portray Lt. Dan, an Army officer who becomes a bitter amputee after a combat injury.

It was a signature role for Sinise, and cries of “Lt. Dan” follow him everywhere he goes, including Thursday morning. Sinise also produces CBS’s CSI:NY, on which he portrays Detective “Mac” Taylor.

“I love him as both roles,” McDaniel said.

As he left the VA, Sinise told The Augusta Chronicle that anyone who serves our country in defense of freedom deserves “our utmost respect and care.” He urges the public to get involved with military and veteran organizations because the government cannot meet all of the veterans’ needs.

“That’s where organizations … and charities devoted to military come into play,” Sinise said. “Those organizations are important because there is so much need in the veterans’ space.”

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resident
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resident 07/05/12 - 01:35 pm
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Wonderful thing

I am also here to say I challenge a local organization to assist in bringing the USO back to Augusta. I spoke with represetatives of the organization and they would come back if some organization would support them and simply request they come back. I think there is enough military and their families here all the time that this is needed here. Let's get this thing going!!

Techfan
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Techfan 07/06/12 - 02:21 am
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We saw the Lt. Dan Band in

We saw the Lt. Dan Band in Savannah. Probably the best cover band I've ever heard.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 07/06/12 - 02:58 pm
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"As he left the VA, Sinise

"As he left the VA, Sinise told The Augusta Chronicle that anyone who serves our country in defense of freedom deserves “our utmost respect and care.” He urges the public to get involved with military and veteran organizations because the government cannot meet all of the veterans’ needs"

Amen!

I respect a celebrity that actually does something instead of paying lip service like so many of them do. Wonderful person!

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