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Gary Sinise to Receive AUSA's Highest Award

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U.S. Army
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gary Sinise, an actor and humanitarian who has focused on supporting service members, veterans, first responders and their families, has been selected by the Council of Trustees of the Association of the United States Army as the 2017 recipient of the George Catlett Marshall Medal for sustained commitment to the men and women of America's armed forces.

Sinise will receive AUSA's highest award for distinguished public service on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Marshall Dinner, the final event of the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition. The dinner will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored to be invited to receive the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the United States Army,” Sinise said. “It has been a great blessing to know there is something I can do to support the men and women in uniform who defend our nation and I will look forward to expressing my gratitude in person at the Marshall Dinner.”

Sinise, who can currently be seen starring in the CBS series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, was born and raised in Chicago. His support of veterans can be traced back to his time at Steppenwolf Theater, which he co-founded in the 1970s. During the 1980s, he created a Vets Nights program at the theater, offering free dinners and performances for veterans. 

It was his performance of severely wounded veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump that led him to work closely with wounded and disabled veterans. As his acting career continued, Sinise became more dedicated to supporting service members and veterans nationwide. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sinise began taking part in USO handshake tours, and went on to form the Lt. Dan Band, entertaining troops at home and abroad for the past 14 years.

In 2011, Sinise created the Gary Sinise Foundation to serve defenders, veterans, first responders and their families. Support comes through a variety of programs including R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment), which builds specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans.

The foundation’s Invincible Spirit Festivals celebrate injured service members, caregivers and hospital staff at military medical centers with a daylong festival complete with a live Lt. Dan Band concert and cookout prepared by celebrity chef Robert Irvine. The foundation's Soaring Valor program brings World War II veterans to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and sponsors videotaping their firsthand accounts of war. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Serving Heroes, Arts & Entertainment Outreach and First Responders Outreach.

The Marshall Medal, awarded by AUSA since 1960, is named for former General of the Army George Catlett Marshall Jr., a former Army Chief of Staff who also served as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and U.S. Special Envoy to China in a public service career that spanned from the Spanish-American War through the Truman administration.

Past recipients include Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush; General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, and retired Army Gens. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, Colin L. Powell, Bernard W. Rogers, Maxwell D. Taylor and John W. Vessey Jr. Other recipients include two former Defense Secretaries who also served as Directors of Central Intelligence, Leon E. Panetta and Robert M. Gates; Duke University head basketball coach and U.S. Military Academy graduate Michael Krzyewski; and comedian Bob Hope. Last year's recipient was retired Army Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, a former Army Chief of Staff who served for 18 years as AUSA's president and CEO.