Sinise in Lisle to kick off 'Rockin' for the Troops'
Actor Gary Sinise knows his years of charity work to support U.S. troops and veterans won't end anytime soon.
"I think we don't even know what's coming ... there are residual effects of war that are always long-lasting," Sinise said Thursday.
If you goWhat: Rockin' for the Troops
Who: Operation Support our Troops America
When: Gates open 12 p.m. July 21, entertainment starts at 2 p.m.
Where: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
Cost: $25 per ticket; collection items accepted for comfort packages
Details: rockinforthetroops.org; osotamerica.org; garysinisefoundation.org
That's why the star of "CSI: NY" came to Navistar headquarters in Lisle Thursday to kick off ticket sales for the seventh year of his 'Rockin' for the Troops' concert, coming July 21 to Cantigny Park in Wheaton. The annual show features Sinise's Lt. Dan Band, named for Sinise's character in the film "Forrest Gump," as well as Motown, rock and country acts.
Proceeds benefit Operation Support Our Troops America, based in Naperville, which offers support programs for active military members, their families and veterans.
Speaking before a crowd of hundreds of Navistar employees and charity sponsors, Sinise said this event is among his favorite charity shows of the dozens he performs each year -- and not just because its near the town where he spent his teen years.
"I know everyone there is in the spirit of supporting our men and women in uniform," Sinise said.
Officials from Navistar and several other companies, including Midas International, also announced initiatives to hire returning veterans, while Operation Support Our Troops leaders said the program has raised $2 million since its launch. The charity's president, Deborah Rickert, highlighted how some of those funds have been used, such as $50,000 toward new research for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury; $120,000 for comfort package postage; and $30,000 for its Leap of Faith program, which helps families who have lost a member in combat.
After his speech, Sinise told the Daily Herald he plans to continue his work, which has taken him to the Middle East, Europe, Asia and beyond, for years to come, no matter how busy his acting schedule. That's why he started his Gary Sinise Foundation, which does its own fundraising and supports nearly 30 charities, including Operation Support Our Troops.
"Sometimes military life seems so far away," Sinise said. "We might think it doesn't appeal to us, or we see it in the paper and think 'I don't want to read about war.' But when push comes to shove, we all enjoy what the military provides for us.
"I have Vietnam veterans in my family and I will never forget what happened when they came home and our country turned our back on them," he said. "That was a shameful period. Now we have thousands and thousands of disabled service members. And we are trying to chip away and make sure we give them the tools they need to live a good life, and take care of their caregivers to make sure they don't fall through the cracks."
While Sinise's Lt. Dan Band will headline Rockin' for the Troops, the event also will feature performances by Motown tribute band The Voices, rockers 7th Heaven, Big John Howell and Amy Jacobsen performing country rock, and guitarist Isabela Nanni playing original music.
Tickets are available online and at Jewel food stores.