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November 11th, 2009 by Gary Sinise

The Scars of Battle

Many of you remember Gary Sinise’s outstanding portrayal of Lt. Dan in the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump, and you now see him weekly on the hit show CSI: New York. But I know him as an extremely generous person with a heart for helping Iraqi children. I had the privilege of serving as emcee for the Iraq Star Foundation’s “A Night of Honour,” which provides reconstructive surgery to wounded veterans, and Gary was the special guest of honor. Please enjoy his guest blog entry.


Gary Sinise

This is our country and the freedom that we all share as Americans has been earned, and paid for and sacrificed for over the years by a courageous few. The majority of Americans sleep soundly in the comfort of their homes at night, while a very very small percentage stand watch in dangerous environments around the globe, making sure that we all can continue to enjoy the liberty and freedom we have grown so accustomed to as Americans.

Unfortunately, we take this liberty for granted. But just look back at our history and you will remember that this freedom comes at a terrible cost. And today, unless you are personally connected to someone serving in our military, a son a daughter, a father a mother, a friend or relative, you may not know just how expensive and costly it is to keep that liberty. Life goes on here at home. But in Iraq and Afghanistan our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, and their families enduring many sleepless nights here at home, feel the sacrifices being made every single day and they are paying a price. Whether they are on the front pages of our newspapers or the lead story on the nightly news or not, they still continue to do dangerous work in dangerous places and they do so voluntarily.

If we as a nation are going to send our troops into harm’s way, then we must be prepared to support them with whatever they need throughout their deployment and upon their return. And sometimes that return brings with it the scars of the battle. I have been to our hospitals many times, and believe me there are no more courageous men and women than those who have served, been wounded and who have thoughts of returning to the fight if only they can heal their wounds quickly enough. Leaving their friends behind to carry on without them is difficult for them indeed. I have been awed by them over and over again. And while we can never do enough for our veterans, we can always, always try to do more.

Our government and Veterans Administration, while trying to do the right thing for our returning service members, sometimes falls desperately short. And once our brave warriors return home and are reunited with their families, we should be mindful that all too often they bring the battle home with them and that our nation must support them as they adjust to life after war. Still, what is encouraging is that we have made tremendous progress over the years.

gary2From our Vietnam days of turning our backs on our veterans, we learned that no matter whether we as a nation believe in the mission the government has set upon our military, our country’s service members are to be supported, and cared for and thanked for all that they do for us. And we, as citizens of the country they defend, can pick up the slack where the government leaves off. I have been involved with many grassroots organizations started by people who just simply wanted to help our troops and wanted to make sure that they knew that they were not going to be forgotten. They were not going to let them fall through the cracks.

Iraq Star is one such organization. I want to acknowledge and applaud the doctors who have donated their time and their services to helping these brave heroes. They are to be commended for lending a hand to those who needed help. Finally, to those brave service members, the Iraq Star beneficiaries who have given so much, thank you. Where would our nation be without the courageous few you represent? I am honored to serve you in whatever way I can, and I am grateful that the celebrity I have can be used to draw attention to your courage, your bravery and your sacrifice. You are the stars and I will be forever grateful for all you do for us. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America you so bravely serve.

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26 Responses to “The Scars of Battle”

  1. People who serve in the military have my deepest gratitude, admiration and appreciation. They are amazing and with my head bowed, I applaud the job they do.

    That said I believe war needs to be abolished.

  2. JennaJ says:

    To Gary, a huge thank you from a military wife! You visited my husband when he was overseas in Iraq and that did so much to keep their spirits up…it was nice to hear him get excited about something nice…not something sad all the time!! It did all of the soldiers good to shake your hand and it let them know that someone besides their families still cared!

  3. Linda Rose says:

    War is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved. The collateral damage as some call it is the innocent lives shattered. I don’t agree with governments attacking other countries and sending our young men and women to fight but I do support and pray for every solider who puts his or her life on the line.

    I rememeber Vietnam and had a cousin married to a man who was drafted. He came home with malaria and phychological damage and trauma from all he experienced there. He became an alcoholic for the remainder of his life and suffered from horrible nightmares There was no support given him and others like him.That neglect is a shameful neglect by the country who sent him there. I hope nothing like that happens to our vetrans now or ever again.

    Someday “they will beat there swords into plowshares and no war no more” Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

  4. i think that president obama should send all of our troops home. we need to protect our own country not other countries and their problems. i feel that if our troops were home there would not have been 9/11.
    love your show and love the movies you’ve been in.
    keep up the good work.
    my adopted dad was half greek and half swedish. his dad’s family are from crete.

  5. FosterBoys says:

    That our government “falls desperately short” in caring for our returning soldiers was overly kind. It is a disgrace and it speaks volumes to where our (politician’s) priorities lie. Not enough money in the coffers to take care of our own wounded? Then there’s not enough money to go to war. Got injured in a war zone? Prove it. Run through the red tape and if you’re still sane and/or alive when we decide you should get anything, consider yourself lucky.

  6. FosterBoys says:

    And, for what it’s worth, here is my tribute to the brave young men and women who fight to keep us safe and who pay the ultimate price.


  7. Janet Davies says:

    I never take the men, and women that put their lives on the line for my freedom for granted. Everyday I pray for them and their families back here at home. When I see a young soldier or a veteran old and grey I take time out to tell them how much I appreciate what they do.

  8. Yesterday, Veteran’s Day, I saw a random “tweet” that felt like a sucker punch. A woman was sitting in her child’s school chapel, where a service was in progress. One of the songs played was “If I had a hammer.” Her reaction was to rale against this “hippy dippy” song, calling it inappropriate to the day.

    I sat there for a long while, then found myself “tweeting” back:

    No one loves peace like a veteran.

    [My tweet went unacknowledged. S'okay. She is a busy woman.]


    Forrest Gump with Gary Sinise is one of my favorite movies. Since my father a 100% Disabled Veteran from WWII… the veterans hospital is like a second home. When 8… I did a ballet recital for veterans since my dad hospitalized at VA annex in my home town.

    Ballet Recital was the same year one by one mothers canceled their daughters coming to my mother’s first Bluebird meeting “since my father a disabled veteran.” Yarn for yarn dolls, punch in punch bowl and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I was so proud of my mom as looked stellar.

    My mother was so embarrassed in front of me. Dad too. I tried to cheer her up and said I’d still like to see how a yarn doll made yet was soaked in her tears. She and dad looked like emotionally kicked in the stomach. We’d already moved once in Tulsa due to dad being made fun of and did again after Bluebird incident and again and again. I’ve been to 17 schools I think. Got thrown up against a house for telling a boy to not to make fun of my family because of my dad’s disability.

    I wasn’t even considered for plays in school so I’d sing to myself on way home and talk to God. I’d try to understand that maybe if I were them, with matching socks, and not me I would exclude someone like me yet I hoped not. It was like I was invisible so much so when my dad went to live at VA hospital after Bluebird incident that the school didn’t notice I dropped out of school. Missed 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th & 12th. Though, did graduate from college 3 weeks after dad died. Wished he’d been there to seen. I guess that’s why he got me an honorary class ring before he passed for helping him all the time when he and mom both got new rings for each other.

    Recently, online someone made fun of me since uninsured. Well, actually, it’s not the first time. Veterans hate to see loved ones go without care, too. Lynn gets in Green Beret Medic mode to get me to ER a couple of times when I needed to go and I’m treated like gum on bottom of medical profession’s shoes. Actually jerked up in ER during allergic reaction to aspirin. That was a shocker when I no longer had insurance. Yet, like school, I’ve accepted my place and grin and bear it. It is what it is and that’s how it is. I still wouldn’t want to be anybody else or want another dad than my disabled veteran dad or any other mom. Wish they were still here.

    Both my parents are at Arlington National Cemetery. I was only person at mom’s funeral, besides my mom and those who conducted funeral, when she joined dad there. I hope to go back one day. Right now I have some things to take to a veteran next visit to my home town. Twice I’ve mailed Dr. Phil, Robin, Jay’s & other books to Fort Sill library. Took a veteran and his family to Christmas Dinner one year etc. etc. etc. Dad would give the shirt off his back to fellow veterans too.

    Lynn, here, is a former Green Beret Medic with one silver & two bronze stars from Viet Nam conflict. I was shocked when I slipped on hay & tripped over pumpkins getting him a birthday cake last year… When Lynn wrote in in my behalf to place that told him to call if I needed anything… to say not just I but an emergency personnel person lost footing too. Well, it was sort of like with dad… and like we didn’t matter… Needless to say, nothing covered as alluded to would be. Just all for show in front of those gathered.

    Eye exams are no longer covered at VA Hospital. Iraq Star is a great organization. The injuries of war break my heart as from a young age I’ve seen many injured veterans visiting my dad at VA Hospital. On The Doctors TV series I was SO happy when a soldier got fitted with a more natural eye for where he lost his eye. So thank God for THE DOCTORS too for all the veterans’ loved one’s who go without care, too, and veterans who fall through the cracks. As a child having matching socks seemed like the “end all cure all” yet I guess not because the veterans falling through the cracks have/had matching socks.

    Right this minute if I could take a soldier’s place in Iraq or Afghanistan I would and wish age to join would be extended so I could. Until then I help here and there as best I can. I heard a veteran in a wheelchair say he wished he had some reading glasses & so I took mine out of my pocket on the spot to give to him. See, even though there always seems to be something about me to be made fun of from my dad being a disabled veteran to being more recently insulted since uninsured I still feel blessed. So, if there’s anything I can do let me know and, in the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes open for ways I see I can help.

    Now, see, you might think I said this feeling sorry for myself and not so. See, I had the best dad and mom in the world, to me and Dr. Phil taught me SELF MATTERS includes me. I said this for people to not ostracize the children of veterans if their parent has “The Scars of Battle.” See, it hurts the children more for their parents then themselves. Don’t cancel going to the first Bluebird meeting of the wife of a disabled veteran and don’t use their children for dodge ball at recess. It hurts. Thank you.

  10. Phyllis Martin says:

    I have lived in Fayetteville, NC for 20 years and never really had a true appreciation for the military until I moved here. I was a young girl when my brother served in Vietnam and really never understood what it all meant. I have made numerous friends here that may be on active duty, retired veteran or even a spouse of that person. No one can truly appreciate the lives these people lead because its never really made public to the average person that is not involved. The sacrifices the active duty personnel make for us are never really known. Not only do they put their own life in jeopardy, but missing a family life at home, missing holidays, graduations, births of new babies, the many growing stages of family, the list can go on and on. My respect for all of these folks has increased tremendously since I moved here and see it on a day to day basis. May God Bless all of the military, spouses, parents, children and especially their supporters.

  11. Bridget says:

    Hello Gary,
    I truly appreciate your help and support with the troops because it is a crazy life to be living. I have been dating my boyfriend for 2 years, I moved to his duty station to help raise his son who was 7 at the time, now 9 and I am 24 years old myself. The boy’s mother got addicted to drugs and basically abandoned him and if I was not able to move and do what I do for his son, he would not be able to do his job. It is a life that requires a lot of strong men and women and I feel that as long as we have support from others, we can do this day in and day out. I never grew up so fast in my life and these lifestyle changes have been quite an adjustment for me. So thank you again for all that you give back!

  12. Brian says:

    Hello Gary,
    I am a Vietnam Veteran and your story deeply touched me. In the parenthestis is where I quoted “YOU” and I speak for a lot of veterans.
    (”From our Vietnam days of turning our backs on our veterans, we learned that no matter whether we as a nation believe in the mission the government has set upon our military, our country‚Äôs service members are to be supported, and cared for and thanked for all that they do for us”).
    Troops just do not want to feel that they were not going to be forgotten. I am so grateful that our troops todays are remembered and not forgotton as you often said after a period of time life goes on here and more and more the veterans are forgotton.
    During Vietnam, we went because our country ordered us to and at the time we felt it was our patriotic duty. During the war, our country and our citizens stopped supporting us. In the end we did not fight for our country, but instead we were fighting to keep each other alive. I remember coming home, there were not any parades or fanfares; instead we were frowned upon and called murderers, babykillers and told that we were a disgrace to our country and should be ashamed. We were never equipped to win. It should of been over in a few years. The war was micro managed by the White House. We were set up not to win and our country became divided over it.
    It took nearly (20) years to have a memorial dedicated to the war with the 58,000 deceased names on it, of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. That memorial came abour after the first Gulf War.
    Those who have seen war up close, never ever wants to see anything like it again. The war was over for me in 1975 when we left Saigon, but it will be with me for the rest of my days. It has been more than (35) years and I still hear the screams and see the dying and carnage in my sleep and it will be with me until I die. I spent 4 years and 3 months in Vietnam and saw more than my share of death and destruction.
    What bothered me the most is the treatment our veterans received in V.A. hospitals here at home. Many would lay in their own filth for days because of a lack of funds to employ the proper people. The level of care in 2009 is not any better than it was in 1970, The military now, after treating thier live saving wounds. They all have PTSD, however, to cut costs military doctors diagnosis them with a “Personality Disorder” and discharge them with a less than honorable discharge, which cuts off all their benefits. The result is they become homeless. This is the gratitude that our government shows those that put their families on hold and sacrificed their lives for our freedom
    As Gary said the price of freedom is not cheap by any means and if you were not in the military or a family member, you cannot fathom the sacrifices that are made to keep you safe. Most non-military personel take their freedom for granted, something that is owed to them. They do not sacrifice anything and often are the first to condemn and complain.
    One of the biggest sacrifices are made by the families of soldier. They often do without and if their loved one returns with an amputated leg or arm that just adds more stress for the families. Yet no one mentions the sacrificies the familes go through.


  13. Shannon Smith says:

    Dr. Phil and Mr. Sinise,

    Thank you for doing what you can to support my husband and the men and women like him! I am always grateful for the honor and support strangers give us! I only pray it will continue! My husband has deployed a few times while I take care of the “home front” which is also overseas for me. It is a little harder being by oneself in a foreign country, but the military bases can be very supportive communities!

    I hope that when the wars are over, people still remember those who are serving! I don’t think many people consider all the military does. Even now, there are men and women still patroling the DMZ. There are men and women digging wells and building schools. There are men and women visiting villages in poor countries giving free medical, dental and animal care. This is the American military. We are not just war, but we are only thought about during war.

    People have been critical of the military and the government for not knowing how to handle some of our wounded. They wonder why all the research on PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) hasn’t been done earlier. How does a Congressman or a Senator explain millions of dollars in researching the effects of war or battle fatigue during peace time? It is only important when it is front page news. It is a cycle anyone with long experience with the mitary has seen over and over again.

    Thank you again for bringing up important issues dealing with the military! Hopefully, these issues will not be forgotten, those serving will not be forgotten, during peace time!

    Yours truly, a military wife in Japan,
    Shannon Smith

  14. donnahammond says:

    I didn`t know all this about Nr. Sinise, I`m so pleased that one of my favorite actors is doing so much! God Bless him and the lives touched. I do have family and friends in the military and (heaven forbid) if anything happens I truley am grreatful there will be extra help available. Thank you and may the Good Lord multiply and Bless each person and family, and You too. Love the CIS/NY by the way! donna

  15. lenwithlove says:

    What a wonderful use of celebrity, when I read about and Gary it was truly touching! Being an ex airforce brat I really have a lot of respect and admiration for him and his giving back.

    WTG GARY! and thanks Dr. Phil for sharing this on your blog!


  16. deputy dog says:

    Thanks for all you do for our troops. This comes from a PROUD son of a Marine. My dreams of following in his footsteps where cut shot due to an injury. May GOD bless you

  17. The website isn’t mine, but that of one of my heros. He works just about 24/7 sending
    all kind of goodies that are donated, to our troops. And when there isn’t enough, he will make up the difference. He stays in touch with the troopss. Has sent quilts and banners made by school children with messages on them. He sends toys for the children, that our troops hand out. When he collects any monetary gifts, he asks that it be made to the Postmaster so that you know that money is going to help ship these boxes. The website I gave is his personal site, and I don’t know the one he uses for the troops, but he will answer at either place. He has been doing this for years now, and if you give him the name of a soldier, sailor, etc He will make sure that person gets a care package until he is sent home. He is not rich, he could be travelilng with his wife, but this is his passion. It costs $50 a box to send, and if they are short, he makes it up out of his pocket. He has visited the troops and taken cigars. He is just a special person. He uses the warehouse for his business to put everything in, and then asks for volunteers to fill the boxes. His name is Bob Williams in Wesley Chapel , FL. I am proud to know him. Jerry Ann Haynam

  18. Leslie says:

    I may not agree with the war but I have always stood behind our troops. My family just had a recent scare, my brother is in the Navy and was issued orders to go to Afgahnistan, luckily those orders were given to someone else but we never know when we’re gonna get the call that he’s shipping out. I just hope that if and or when he is shipped out he returns home safe.
    Thank you to all our troops! My prayers are with you and your family.

  19. joseph griso says:

    Gary sinise is an awesome american and a great actor. I loved him in forest gump and the kidnap movie with mel gibson.We need more caring americans like him

  20. Karen says:

    Mr. Sinise,

    My husband has served 21 years in the United States Air Force, and we are both huge fans of yours, not only for the great work you have done on television and in movies, but more for the tireless work you have done in support of our men and women in uniform. Thank you for speaking out for us, for visiting us overseas and in hospitals, and for using your celebrity to call attention to what our fighting forces need. You are my hero! It is so easy for us to feel like we get no support, when our friends and loved ones aren’t getting the treatment they need, or we hear about another protest rally, condemning what we’re doing in Iraq or Afghanistan. YOU remind people that we’re doing what we do because we love our country. For us, it’s not political, it’s patriotic. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God bless you, Mr. Sinise.

  21. Janet Blades says:

    Hello Gary,
    I watch your show just about every week and I want to say that you are a great actor and now I see a new side of you about the veterans. I had a cousin who served in the army in Vietman and I really don’t think he got much help after he got back. So I’m glad that with a spokeperson such as your self that you will open other peoples eyes as to what our country can do for our veterans and their families. So again Thank you for opening my eyes and making me realize just what our armed forces do for us.

    Sincerely, Jan

  22. Kerry Bates says:

    I have a deep respect and appreciation for those who take their time to share and support our soldiers.
    In my personal experience, I know it is hard for soldiers to share their feelings to be open about their experiences. So for people to act without being asked makes me so happy. My children and I are experiencing the affects of war, because my husband was deployed to Iraq in 2004. I have recently started to blog about my experiences and hope that more people will share their experiences as well. It is hard as the wife of a soldier because you know that they don’t want pity, and don’t want everyone to know what is going on in their families. Recently my husband has found an amazing counselor through the local V.A. clinic and he has come to realize the importance of sharing.
    I hope that Dr. Phil, Gary Sinise, and all the others who care, will keep it up. You make a difference. Thank you! Kerry

  23. Using the title Doctor Phil adds touch of intellectual height, and I appreciate his touch of religious faith. I wonder if Dr. Phil is aware of the fact that historic encyclicals on human life by Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae has been “rejected by silence” even though it is quoted in Pope Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate of June 29, 2009. Who cares, while the holocaust of abortions goes on and “Catholic” politicians as Schwartzenegger, Kennedy, Pelosi, Kerry go with flow of consensus? Does Dr. Phil have any children? Would be great if he had many to inherit intellectual potentials. Is Dr.Phil aware that Muslims are more pro-life than our Roe v Wade Supreme Court justices? –or of Ronald Reagan who wrote what became a book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation –? Media overwhelm us with sex as recreational asset –never mention NFP or Mother Teresa’s Nobel Peace Prize Address in which she tells of the great reduction of abortions among poor, lepers and beggars when the women were taught the dominant pattern of inferility each month for natural sex! No Pill, attendant threat of cancer (untold) –but then again, Solzhenitsyn defined from the Gulag experience that after all, “freedom is self-restriction.” Self control, not greed, lust.

  24. I appreciate Gary Sinese for his continuing effort to promote the military. I was luckily 4-F during the Vietnam conflict. I had friends and relatives who went and never came home. The ones who came home failed to grasp the benefits offered by our wonderful government. I am retired and on SS disability, not worried about the economy as long as the federal and state government is stable. Forrest Gump was a turning point for a lot of people in understanding the real stupidity of heroism in our country. Our society will take a nobody and make them special and take somebody special and make them a nobody. Thrill killers get more attention than academics or sports. All this ignorance just makes it so great to be born in America.

  25. I would like to ask Gary Sinese to check the information I saw on a news program where protestors went to where a soldier was returning in a body bag. They wanted to make statements against the government about being involved in war. This to me was a real slap in the face of all Americans. Just because we are given the right to peacefully protest doesn’t mean we can display ignorance without repercushions. There is a place for all disenters, but disgraceful actions are inexcusable.

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