The Council of Trustees of the Association of the United States Army has selected Gary Sinise as the 2017 recipient of the George Catlett Marshall Medal. The medal is awarded for sustained commitment to the men and women of America's armed forces.
Sinise, an actor and humanitarian who has focused on supporting service members, veterans, first responders and their families, will receive AUSA's highest award for distinguished public service at the Marshall Dinner on Oct. 11. The dinner will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
"I am honored to be invited to receive the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the United States Army," Sinise said in a statement. "It has been a great blessing to know there is something I can do to support the men and women in uniform who defend our nation and I will look forward to expressing my gratitude in person at the Marshall Dinner."
Sinise's support of veterans can be traced back to his time at Steppenwolf Theater, which he co-founded in the 1970s, but it was his performance of severely wounded veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie Forrest Gump that led Sinise to work closely with wounded and disabled veterans. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Sinise began taking part in USO tours, and went on to form the Lt. Dan Band, entertaining troops at home and abroad.
In 2011, Sinise founded the Gary Sinise Foundation to provide support through programs such as R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment), which builds specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans. The foundation holds the Invincible Spirit Festival to honor wounded service members, their caregivers, and hospital staff. The Soaring Valor program brings World War II veterans to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and sponsors videotaping their firsthand accounts of war. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Serving Heroes, Arts & Entertainment Outreach and First Responders Outreach.
The Marshall Medal is named for former General of the Army George Catlett Marshall Jr., a former Army Chief of Staff who also served as Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and U.S. Special Envoy to China in a public service career that spanned from the Spanish-American War through the Truman administration.
Past recipients include Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush; General of the Army Omar Bradley, and retired Army generals Lyman Lemnitzer, Colin Powell, Bernard Rogers, Maxwell Taylor and John Vessey Jr.
Other recipients include two former defense secretaries who also served as Directors of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, Duke University head basketball coach and U.S. Military Academy graduate Michael Krzyewski and comedian Bob Hope.
Last year's recipient was retired Army Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a former Army chief of staff who served for 18 years as AUSA's president and CEO.
Mackenzie Wolf is an editorial intern for Military Times.