Sinese, Lt Dan Band helping military families


Kristi Langenbacher


Sunday, May 6, 2018

While Gary Sinise may be best known for his role as Lt. Dan Taylor in the Academy Award winning film “Forrest Gump,” he is also known for being an ardent supporter of military families.

Gary Sinise and The Lt. Dan Band perform concerts around the world to raise spirits, funds, and awareness for our nation’s wounded warriors, their families and all who serve. He also raises awareness and support for first responders.

Our family first saw the Lt. Dan Band in concert on Coast Guard Island in Alameda several years ago. We had the opportunity to see the band again last weekend at his Concert for Heroes at the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The band’s outdoor concert in Santa Rosa was its fourth in four days, and was free and open to the public. The crowd in attendance at the shell of an old airplane hangar was relatively small, and made up mostly of what appeared to be military personnel, veterans, first responders and their families. Attendees were treated to complimentary food and drinks, which had been donated for the event held at the museum on the grounds of the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

The band played an eclectic mix of music including rock, pop and patriotic and country songs, while staying true to its motto of: “Honor. Gratitude. Rock and Roll.”

Sinise paid tribute to the firefighters and their families who were in attendance, and praised the sacrifices many made during the October 2017 Northern California wildfires. The firestorm ignited 250 wildfires which burned for weeks across the state. According to Cal Fire, more than 10,000 firefighters battled the blaze, which burned nearly 250,000 acres. The fires destroyed thousands of structures and decimated entire neighborhoods.

Throughout the concert Sinise interacted with many members in the audience, which was allowed to stand close to the stage, dance and take photos. He and his band members came down off the stage and posed for photos with children and adults, wandered through the crowd, and led a conga line through the venue.

It was very clear to all in attendance that he and his band members are staunch supporters of veterans, first responders, service members and their families.

Since 2003, the Lt. Dan Band has entertained military personnel in the United States and overseas. The band has performed more than 375 concerts worldwide in support of military members and their families, including more than 150 USO concerts and more than 225 fundraising and benefit concerts.

This year the band is scheduled to perform more than 25 shows at military bases and facilities including: Edwards Air Force Base in California, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland and Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico. Concerts scheduled overseas this year include U.S. Army Garrisons Grafenwoehr and Kaiserslautern in Germany.

In past years Sinise and his band has performed special concerts for military families at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

In support of The Gary Sinise Foundation, the band raises awareness and funds for many organizations that are working hard for veterans, first responders, wounded service members, and their families. More information about the band and the foundation can be found at www.garysinesefoundation.org

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.