Wounded Veterans Take Memorable Trip to Hollywood

Veterans in HollywoodOne of Gary Sinise’s more iconic movie roles was as Lt. Dan Taylor in Forest Gump.  In this Oscar-nominated role, Sinise portrays Taylor as a soldier who lost both his legs while fighting in Vietnam. For the last 20 years, Sinise has used Lt. Taylor as his inspiration in helping disabled veterans and their families.

The Gary Sinise Foundation is a nonprofit group dedicated to raising money for veterans initiatives. Last month he took 50 servicemen and women from Walter Reed, Fort Belvoir and Naval Medical Center San Diego on an all-expenses paid trip to Hollywood. This started with a private charter plane and a police escort once in Los Angeles. At first it was a day free of charge at Disneyland with a guide to circumvent the long lines. The group then went to Forest Gump’s home, Paramount Studios. There they were treated to a flyover from a pair of P-51 Mustangs and a special screening of the movie. There were also appearances by the movies Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis and Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks.

Finally, the trip concluded with a performance by Gary Sinise’s band, which as you probably guessed, is called the Lt. Dan Band. “After the injuries and all that, it feels like you can’t go out in the world anymore,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Irish.  “All you want to do is be in a dark room and just sleep it off … and now with Gary and his organization helping us … to have fun and be yourself, that’s very important to all of us.” Army Sgt. Kevin Gatson, who is an amputee that spent three and a half years recovering at Walter Reed, said:

I don’t feel like I have limitations. I feel anything I want to do, I’m able to do. All it takes is me saying I’m going to go do it.

Despite being in a wheelchair, he is a member of a hockey team. Triple amputee Bryan Anderson admittedly grew bitter and distant after losing an arm and both legs in Iraq. Meeting Sinise helped to change his attitude. He said that Sinise portrayed the role of Lt. Dan in a good way despite the obvious frustrations that come with being confined to a wheelchair. “There’s a hopeful ending to the story of Lt. Dan that all our wounded veterans want … that story that they can be standing up again and moving on with life and doing all right,” Sinise said.  “The whole purpose is to send them home smiling. They should know that there appreciated and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

More Hopeful News for Veterans

More Articles

Federal Court Addresses PTSD Stressors

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirms that VA must apply a generous standard when evaluating the lay testimony of veterans suffering from PTSD concerning their combat experiences and PTSD stressors. Sanchez-Navarro v....

Permanent and Total VA Disability Ratings for PTSD

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within three months of the...

Depression And Your VA Claim

Depression can negatively affect every aspect of your life: how you feel, think, sleep, function, and interact with others. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health Issues, about 14% of veterans suffer from depression. Depression is one of the most common...

Four Tips On How To Get The Highest PTSD Rating

If you have been fortunate enough to have been granted service connection for PTSD, then you have probably been given a disappointingly low rating.  This is a very common situation so you are not alone. The VA regularly underrates PTSD claims.  In the...


  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.