Emmy Award-winning actor Gary Sinise and his 12-member cover band, the Lt. Dan Band, have been traveling with the USO for more than seven years! Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band have enhanced the lives of approximately 150,000 troops stationed in the U.S., as well as in Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Belgium, Afghanistan, the UK and Germany.
No stranger to supporting troops and their families, separately Sinise has traveled on USO tours to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, UAE, Germany and Italy as well as military bases throughout the states, personally uplifting the spirits of more than 58,700 service members.
“The band and I are always happy to hit the road with the USO. We love performing for troops, because their sacrifices make it possible for the rest of us to live our lives. They deserve so much more, and this is just one way for us to let them know we appreciate what they do,” says Gary Sinise. He took the time to answer the following questions for us:
What made you want to start touring for the USO?
I have veterans on both sides of my family and began working with veterans groups in the Chicago area in the early 80’s. And I’d played veterans in a few movies, of course, but it was really after 9/11 that I felt this need to get involved with our active duty services. So I called up the USO and joined a few handshake tours. It wasn’t long before I wanted to do more. In 2003, Kimo Williams and I started rehearsing the band and performing for the troops around Chicago. By 2004 we were taking our show overseas with the USO. And it only got bigger from there. We play 30-40 shows a year now and 75% of those shows are for troops, veterans and families. 17 USO shows this year alone.
What’s one of your fondest USO memories?
So many wonderful memories. I have been all over the world and have met many incredible people serving our country. One special trip would have to be my first tour to Iraq in 2003. On the plane from Kuwait to Baghdad, I met a former New York City firefighter named John Vigiano. His two sons, one NYPD and the other FDNY, were both killed on September 11th and he’d come along on the trip to show his support for the troops. He and I have been close friends ever since. Hearing his story, being on my first overseas tour and meeting the troops in a combat zone, confirmed to me that this was how I could help. I have been at it ever since.
If you could say one thing to all the men & women serving our country right now, what would it be?
Your service has not and will not be forgotten. We are all in your debt. And thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band now have a feature-length documentary entitled, “Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good,” showing some of their adventures and the amazing heroes they’ve have had the privilege to meet. The movie is streaming online at LtDanBandMovie.com through July. Each view costs just $3.99 and one out of every four dollars will be donated to The Gary Sinise Foundationwhich honors our nation’s defenders through programs and projects that serve our military, veterans, first responders and their families! The DVD will be available through Amazon in August.