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NEWS | March 19, 2024

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band entertain staff, patients at BAMC

By Lori Newman Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band provided food and entertainment for more than 4,000 staff members, patients and visitors at Brooke Army Medical Center March 14.

Sinise’s Invincible Spirit Festival served as an organization day for staff members, patients, and their families to take a much-needed break to enjoy games, food and music.

“I am very honored to welcome you on behalf of BAMC commander, Col. Mark Stackle, who regrets not being able to be here today,” said Army Col. Joseph Hudak, BAMC chief medical officer. “The Invincible Spirit Festival is an event that symbolizes resilience, courage, and an unwavering spirit of camaraderie. We’re here today in celebration of our brave service members, thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation, a beacon of hope and support for America's military community.”

In 2003, Sinise formed the Lt. Dan Band. Over the last 20 years, they have performed more than 500 concerts. The band is named after the character Lt. Dan Taylor, a wounded Vietnam War veteran, who Sinise portrayed in the movie, “Forrest Gump,” 30 years ago.

“I learned a lot working on that film,” he said. “Lt. Dan was a great character to play, and it led me to meet a lot of inspirational people who went through that in real life. People who persevered through those challenges and overcame them. That’s been inspirational to me and a real motivation to try to give back.”

Sinise’s first trip to BAMC was in November 2009.

“I came to visit patients and saw some very, very badly wounded folks that day,” he said. “I wanted to come back immediately, so I came back a month later and I set up my band in the Medical Mall. We brought the patients out; they were up on the balcony on the different levels looking down. It was very moving because I got to play for everybody.”

The Gary Sinise Foundation was established by the award-winning actor in 2011. Sinise said the mission of the foundation is to “serve and honor the needs of the men and women who serve our country – our first responders, our veterans, our Gold Star families.

“Our Invincible Spirit Festival is just to lift people up and give them a little break from the day-to-day grind of rehabilitation, and surgeries and all the things that these families go through over multiple months, if not years sometimes,” he added.

“The entire event was fantastic,” said Carolyn Putnam, executive secretary to the commander. “The best part was when Gary signed the guest book and autographed my Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band T-shirt.”

Evette Morgan, executive secretary, said the event was “great.”

“The team did a great job with the event,” Morgan said. I’m looking forward to the next one! I enjoyed the concert.”

Before taking the stage to entertain the crowd, Sinise visited with wounded and ill service members privately.

“He was really fantastic,” said Army 1st Lt. Hannah Wright, who is attached to the BAMC Soldier Recovery Unit. “He really cares about Soldiers clearly with his foundation. It’s great that he took the time to meet with some of us and make sure that we knew about the programs that his foundation offers.”

“To me it’s more about showing up than just writing a check,” Sinise said. “We want to go out there and wrap our arms around people. That’s what I started all those years ago and that’s what I continue to do. As long as it makes an impact and makes a difference, I’ll keep doing it.”

“To Gary Sinise, the members of the Lt. Dan Band, and all involved in the organization and setup of today's event, I extend our deepest thanks and appreciation,” Hudak said. “Your efforts provide not just entertainment, but a profound sense of community, recognition, and support that uplifts the spirits of all who attend.”