About This Episode

The Gary Sinise Foundation helped build the specially adapted smart home the Mills family moved into in 2014.  The acclaimed actor shared how he was “scared to death” and was “shocked into doing more” by the events of 9/11 and how he became so active in the service life after that unforgettable day.  Gary calls Travis an inspiration for persevering through such a challenging experience and still somehow keeping a sense of humor about it.

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About Our Guest

“While we can never do enough for our defenders and their loved ones, we can always do a little more.”
– Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise’s stage, film and television career has spanned more than four decades. In 1974, at 18 years old, he co-founded Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company where he served as Artistic Director for seven years.  Now in its fifth decade as a professional theatre company, Steppenwolf has received national and international recognition from the media, theatre critics, and audiences alike.

He has starred in or directed over a dozen productions at the renowned theatre, some of which played on or off Broadway, earning multiple Tony award nominations, and winning a Drama Desk Award, Obie Award, Joseph Jefferson Award, and Regional Theatre Tony Award for his work with the theatre.

20 years into his career, for his performance as Lt Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, he received nominations for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards, and earned the Best Supporting Actor Award from the National Board of Review and the Commander’s Award from the Disabled American Veterans. His other film credits include Apollo 13, Ransom, Snake Eyes, Impostor, The Green Mile, Mission to Mars, The Human Stain, I Still Believe, and Good Joe Bell. Gary starred as Jack Garrett on the series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and for nine seasons as Detective “Mac” Taylor on the hit series CSI: NY, both of which aired on CBS. His most recent television work was on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.  He is an Emmy, Golden Globe, and two-time SAG Award winner for his roles in Truman and George Wallace, and a SAG Award nominee for his role in The Stand.

Gary also directed two feature films: Of Mice and Men, which he co-produced and co-starred in with John Malkovich, and Miles from Home starring Richard Gere, Kevin Anderson, Helen Hunt and John Malkovich.

For nearly 40 years, Gary has stood as an advocate on behalf of America’s service members. It began in the early ‘80s, supporting local Vietnam veterans’ groups in the Chicago area, and into the ‘90s, when his portrayal of Lt. Dan formed an enduring connection with service members throughout the military community, and as he worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization, which he continues to actively support today. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Sinise’s dedication to our nation’s active-duty defenders, veterans, first responders and their families has become a tireless crusade of support, service, and gratitude for all those who protect our freedom and serve our country.

In 2011, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve our country by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. The Foundation’s four programmatic pillars are their way of “doing a little more” for those who sacrifice so much for the country.

Sinise serves as spokesperson for both the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial Foundation and Disabled American Veterans. He serves on executive councils for The Medal of Honor Foundation and the USO, and is an advisory board member for Hope for the Warriors.

In recognition of his humanitarian work on behalf of our troops and veterans, Sinise has earned many distinguished awards including The Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Medal of Honor Society, the Spirit of the USO Award, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense Industrial Association and West Point’s Thayer Award. In 2008 he was given the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation, only the third actor ever to receive this honor. He was recently named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the Navy and an Honorary Marine by the United States Marine Corp.

In 2019, his autobiography, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, was released and immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. It is the inspiring, entertaining, and profound story of how a young “rough around the edges” kid from Chicago eventually, through his very personal and unique journey, found his calling: to ensure that our nation’s defenders, who serve this country and its freedoms, are never forgotten.

Giving back to those who sacrifice for our nation and encouraging others to do the same has become Gary Sinise’s personal quest and what he hopes will endure as a legacy of service to others.

Learn more about Gary at GarySinise.com or follow him on Social Media