WASHINGTON� Paul Simon is a tough act to follow. Nonethless, actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise will receive this year�s Service to America Leadership Awardfrom the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundations for his commitment to raising awareness and support for veterans; Simon was last year�s awardee. He will receive the award at the June 16 Celebration of Service to America Gala.
�Gary Sinise is a talented actor who has brilliantly portrayed unique characters throughout his career,� said NABEF President Marcellus Alexander. �His support for veterans has made a positive impact on America�s service men and woman who sacrifice so much for our country.�
The Celebration of Service to America Awards are sponsored and produced by NABEF with support from Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc., Bonneville International Corp., and the NAB.
Sinise co-founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago, where he worked as artistic director for seven years. While there, Sinise appeared in productions, including �The Grapes of Wrath.� In 1994, through his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan in �Forrest Gump,� he began supporting the Disabled American Veterans.�
He also had starring roles in �Apollo 13,� �Ransom,� and �Snake Eyes.� Most recently, Sinise starred as Detective Mac Taylor on CBS�s �CSI: NY.� He will be starring in�Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,� set to premiere in the 2015-2016 season.
Sinise�s advocacy began in the 1980s when he created �Vets Night� at the Steppenwolf Theatre. The program, which invites veterans to a free dinner and performance, continues. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sinise volunteered with United Service Organizations and began visiting troops. In February 2004, he formed the �Lt. Dan Band,� which �performs covers and has helped to raise money for military charities.
Additionally, he co-founded Operation Iraqi Children, which evolved into Operation International Children. The program collected school supplies that were delivered by American troops.
His commitment became fully realized when he officially formed the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 with the mission to honor defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. One such program is R.I.S.E (Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment), whose flagship initiative is a custom Smart Home building project for wounded veterans. Other foundation programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Serving Heroes and Arts & Entertainment Outreach.