Actor Gary Sinise left the 1994 production of “Forrest Gump” a different man. His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor, a Vietnam veteran who lost both legs in the war, helped form an enduring connection with American servicemen and women throughout the entire military community.
“I was more interested in talking to them about this story of Lt. Dan’s life after his injuries,” Sinise says. “To get to that place where they could move beyond their injuries. That’s why I started the Gary Sinise Foundation.”
Sinese set out to make a real difference in the lives of wounded veterans, their families and their caretakers. In 2011, he established the Gary Sinise Foundation with the mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, Gold Star families and those in need.
In a new 8-minute video from AARP, the Forest Gump star is highlighted donating a smart house to a Marine who was gravely wounded in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Jason Ross of the USMC was severely injured in 2011 when he stepped on a 10-pound improvised explosive device (IED) that tore off not only both legs but also parts of his pelvis. Ross now has to get around in a specially constructed wheelchair that keeps him upright after 240 surgeries to stabilize him. For the Marine, this makes getting about a typical house exceedingly challenging.
From the AARP website:
Shortly after creating the foundation, Sinise met Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jason Ross, a double amputee recovering from an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Afghanistan. At the time, Jason was one of the most severely injured servicemembers to have survived such an encounter.
When Sinise met Jason, he recalled being taken aback by the extent of his injuries.
“I looked at Jason and I recall I said, ‘Well, you are a miracle,’” said Sinise.
Jason’s father, Gary Ross, recalled the doctors explaining that his son’s recovery process was going to take a long time and that he would require a lot of help.
“That’s when I effectively recognized that I was going to be his caregiver,” said Gary.
The family was then approached by Sinise about building a smart home to aid in Jason’s recovery.
“One of the things we do is build these specially adapted smart technology homes for very badly wounded folks that might not be able to do that for themselves,” said Sinise. “We wanted to support Jason and his recovery and moving forward and to take the stress away”
By 2015, the home’s construction was complete and Jason was able to move in with his wife and parents.
The foundation made sure that everything was built specifically to accommodate his injuries. Since hallways were notoriously difficult for him to navigate in a wheelchair the home’s halls were made wider, the bathrooms have space for him to turn around and the counters were leveled so both Jason and his older parents could utilize them.
“The ability to have a home that he can move around and can get himself from one place to the next, and I don’t have to worry about it, was very much a great godsend to us,” said Gary.
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In July of this year, the Gary Sinise Foundation celebrated 10 years of service and announced plans to expand to serve more veterans and first responders with post traumatic stress disorder.
Really great to look back at so many wonderful moments over the years, thank you to our Marketing Team for compiling all these great memories & sharing them with you, our supporters & friends as we approach the end of ten years of service. More to come. https://t.co/ZtrJSjbyou
— Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) June 25, 2021
As a USN veteran myself, my heart overflows with gratitude for Gary Sinise’s efforts and his admiration for our troops and their families. Please thank a veteran today for their service and thank God for people like Mr. Sinise that are committed to continue to serve America’s military forces and veterans.