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How our veterans helped Gary Sinise navigate terrible loss

How our veterans helped Gary Sinise navigate terrible loss

In his 33 years, Mac Sinise made a lasting impact through his work and music.

The medieval ideal of chivalry, writes C.S. Lewis, "offers the only possible escape from a world divided between wolves who do not understand, and sheep who cannot defend, the things which make life desirable." We need men who can be ferocious in battle yet gentle at the dinner table.

Because we have forgotten this ideal, we often neglect or discard our warriors when their fight is over. We see this play out in 1995's "Forrest Gump" when the protagonist saves the life of his commanding officer in Vietnam. "Lieutenant Dan," as Forrest calls him, loses both his legs and becomes an embittered alcoholic, abandoned by his country. It is only through the unrelenting friendship and support Forrest later offers him that Lt. Dan is able to regain his life.

The actor who played Lt. Dan has made it his life's mission to extend crucial support to real-life veterans in need. The Gary Sinise Foundation offers a wide range of services to those who have sacrificed for our country: smart homes and mobility devices for disabled veterans, resources for the families of fallen soldiers, and mental health care for those struggling with PTSD. The foundation also provides much-needed funding to support the work of first responders around the country.

Sinise's son, McCanna "Mac" Sinise, worked for his father's foundation, where he took special pleasure in reaching out to the recipients of the organizations support. Also a musician and a composer, the younger Sinise occasionally played drums in Gary's Lt. Dan Band, which performs at military hospitals across the country.

Mac Sinise died January 5 after a long struggle with a rare cancer. In a lengthy tribute to his son, Gary also expressed gratitude to the many military families he's met through the foundation:

"I have met the most extraordinary people who have persevered and overcome the most difficult heartbreaking circumstances, and I have learned from them and been inspired by them. Knowing them gave me strength. Perhaps it was God's way of preparing me to meet our own difficult fight, having met and watched so many courageous families confronting what life had thrown at them."

Those wishing to learn more about the Gary Sinise Foundation and ways to help its mission can do so here.

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Matt Himes

Matt Himes

Managing Editor, Align

Matt Himes is the managing editor for Align.
@matthimes →