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August 18, 2019

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

“When I thought about that, I remembered something I have heard in church. We each have a purpose in life, and if we’re serving God, following him, living out God’s calling and purposes for our life, then we can have faith that God is leading us, and even difficult times can turn out all right. God can cause all things to work together for good.” 
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

February 2019; Thomas Nelson;  978-1400208128
audio, ebook, print (272 pages); autobiography
In my quest to read some different genres this year, I decided that it was time for a biography...and I really picked a fantastic one! We keep looking for heroes and calling people heroes who end up being deeply flawed. Gary Sinise is a true hero for our modern times.  He gives not only his money but he gives his time to America's military and first responders -- to them and to their families. This book is Gary's life - how he turned around from being a troubled young man in Chicago to being an award-winning actor and humanitarian.

When Gary was growing up in Chicago, his life consisted of skipping school and rock&roll.  He didn't see much of a future for himself until he tried out for a won a role as one of the Jets in his high school musical of West Side Story.  Even though he was the gang member way in the back of the stage, the acting bug bit him and he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.  He and a group of friends established the now well known Steppenwolf Theater Company that is still putting on plays in Chicago. After that, he wanted the challenge of Hollywood and ended up winning a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award.  His major roles included Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Harry S. Truman in Truman (for which he won a Golden Globe), Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13, Detective Jimmy Shaker in Ransom, Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13), and George C. Wallace in the television film George Wallace (for which he won an Emmy). From 2016 to 2017, Sinise starred as Special Agent Jack Garrett in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

One of his roles that had an immense following with members of the military was Lt. Dan from Forest Gump. His character went from gung ho military in Vietnam to a wounded veteran with PTSD. The overwhelming support of Lt Dan as well as the pain of 9/11, helped Gary realize that the military and the first responders weren't getting enough support.

What has Gary Sinise done to help?

His Lt. Dan Band has performed over 400 concerts for military around the world.

The Gary Sinise Foundation is made up of these main segments:

R.I.S.E.  builds specially adapted smart homes for the most severely wounded military. This group also provides home modifications, mobility devices and adapted vehicles to the injured, wounded and/or aging heroes.

Relief and Resilience insures that these families stay strong by offering complete support before, during and after battle. This segment sponsors the Snowball express which takes the children of fallen soldiers to Disneyland and offers special camps for them each year.  They also hold frequent spirit festival for wounded military and their families as well as retreats for the wounded veterans.

The H.O.P.E. program provides complete support to those who have experienced trauma, illness, injury, or loss during their times of urgent need, sometimes with assistance as simple as help paying bills or buying groceries.

One of the things that impressed me the most about Gary Sinise is that he truly believes in what he is accomplishing. He doesn't just write a check and stand back to let other people do the work with the people they are helping - he visits military bases all over the world, meets the people that the smart houses are being built for and when the Snowball Express flies a group of kids to Disney, he goes to the park with them and spends time with them. In my opinion, Gary Sinise is a true American hero.

Buy Grateful American at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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