Actor Gary Sinise said there is a “serious disconnect” between the average American citizen and its military, emphasizing the need to educate the public about lasting effects of war.
“Education, as I was saying, is such a critically important part of letting our young people understand why it’s important to support this 0.1 percent of our population that serves in the military. It’s a very, very small percentage of over 300 million people serving in uniform, defending our country,” Sinise said at the National Press Club.
“A lot of young people, if they don’t have a personal connection to somebody who is serving in the military, there’s a disconnect, there’s a serious disconnect between the average American citizen and its military so keeping awareness up, education, that’s why I’m supporting the Medal of Honor Foundation museum.”
Sinise, the national spokesperson for the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation, said the museum is going to serve as a “beacon of education for what service, selflessness and character is all about.”
“We want our young people to understand something greater than themselves of service,” he said.
Sinise, who played Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the film Forest Gump, identified post-traumatic stress disorder as one of the greatest challenges affecting the military community.
“There’s a major epidemic from within the military community of those suffering from post-traumatic stress and thankfully there are a lot of services within the VA that are being providing but also within the nonprofit support space,” he said.
Sinise was asked about the challenges of ensuring service members get the care they need as U.S. military involvement overseas slows down under the Obama administration.
“Service members continue to be deployed in harm’s way yet they’re off the front pages, but the residual effects of these wars will last for decades as they continue to last from previous wars,” he said.
“We still have challenging environments within the veteran community from all wars, don’t we? I’ve never been in combat and I know many of our veterans here have. It never leaves you. It never goes away. You can certainly move beyond it, but the more we can keep consciousness and keep people aware of what’s happening in our military community, the more services will continue to be provided.”
Sinise is the founder of Gary Sinise Foundation, which is dedicated to honoring veterans and active duty service members.
“I don’t think we can ever do enough for our freedom providers — and this is a dangerous 21st century, and we are going to be facing a lot of challenges, and the military is going to be called many, many times in the coming decades,” he said.