Sinese supports disabled veterans' memorial

WASHINGTON (AFRNS) -- Actor and military advocate Gary Sinise earned praise for his portrayal of a disabled Vietnam veteran in the 1994 movie, "Forrest Gump." He is now helping build a memorial for America's 3 million living disabled military veterans.

The spokesman for the Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation, Mr. Sinise, 51, said it is important to recognize disabled veterans' military service and personal sacrifices, especially when America and its armed forces are engaged in a global war on terrorism.

"Having known so many Vietnam veterans and remembering all too well how they were received when they returned from war, I wanted to do my part to make sure that never happens again," Mr. Sinise said, adding that returning Vietnam veterans were treated poorly.

Today's U.S. servicemembers, unlike the conscription force during Vietnam, "serve freely," Mr. Sinise said.

"They should be shown appreciation and respect -- always," the Academy-Award nominated actor said. "Their sacrifices are many and they need our support."

Over the past three years, Mr. Sinise has participated in more than 20 tours with the United Service Organizations to visit overseas-deployed U.S. troops and visited with wounded servicemembers.

Supporting U.S. servicemembers "is truly one of the most rewarding things that I've ever done," Mr. Sinise said. "I know that they don't have to do this work, and I'm grateful that we have people like them who want to volunteer to defend this great nation in military service."

Letting America's servicemen and women know that their service to the nation is appreciated and will not be forgotten can make a great deal of difference, Mr. Sinise said. And, supporting America's disabled military veterans, he added, also is the right and proper thing to do.

The $65 million memorial will honor America's disabled military veterans from all the nation's wars, Mr. Sinise said. It will be built adjacent to the National Mall here, within full view of the U.S. Capitol.

For more information on the memorial, visit the foundation's Web site at http://www.avdlm.com/.