Actor Gary Sinise and a group of people standing in front of a van.
reddit | GarySiniseOfficial

Gary Sinise's Foundation Gifted Him A 'Lieutenant Dan Van'

There are some actors out there whose influence spans more than just the movies, shows, or stage productions they may have been in. One such actor is Gary Sinise, movie star, musician, and activist, who cares deeply for American veterans.

He’s the founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has spent the last decade helping veterans and first responders, as well as their families.

This month, Sinise was surprised by his own foundation. 

Gary Sinise posing next to the Lt. Dan Van.
reddit | GarySiniseOfficial

In a post shared to the Gary Sinise Foundation website's blog, members of the foundation surprised Sinise with his very own Lieutenant Dan Van, which will be used to help with the foundation’s charitable work.

It gets its name from one of Sinise’s most iconic roles.

Lt. Dan telling Forrest Gump, "Yes. I know that."
Giphy |

You may remember Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump, where Sinise played the titular character’s platoon leader while he was fighting in the Vietnam War. He later loses both of his legs, and spends the rest of the film as an amputee.

This role was a great influence for Sinise’s future humanitarian work.

Though he had always been an advocate for wounded veterans and first responders, his portrayal as Lieutenant Dan, as well as the aftermath of 9/11 years later, became influences for his increased efforts.

Some of his efforts have included visiting military bases, and later turned into entertaining troops.

Around 2003, Sinise started the Lt. Dan Band, which plays for troops, as well as during fundraising events in support of veterans and first responders.

A decade after 9/11, the Gary Sinise Foundation was born.

Their efforts have raised awareness and support to wounded and disabled veterans, as well as first responders, and the families of each, raising over $282 million between 2011 and 2021.

And just over a decade after its founding, there’s a new member to the crew.

Gary Sinise and a group of Gary Sinise Foundation members standing in front of a van.
reddit | GarySiniseOfficial

The Lt. Dan Van, of course. It’s an ADA accessible van, which will be used to shuttle disabled veterans and first responders to events put on by the foundation.

The custom van is just utterly patriotic.

The back of the Lt. Dan Van, which is a van covered in images of veterans, first responders, Gary Sinise, and the Gary Sinise Foundation logo.
reddit | GarySiniseOfficial

Featuring images of the American flag, veterans and first responders, families, and of course, Sinise himself, the Lt. Dan Van feels kind of like a love letter to Sinise, the foundation, and those who they help.

Sinise also took to social media to show off his new van.

Gary Sinise standing among a crowd of laughing and smiling people; he himself looks shocked.
reddit | GarySiniseOfficial

Posting on Reddit, Sinise showed off pictures of himself, his team, and the van. You can really tell he had no idea the Foundation was making it for him.

He also posted a short YouTube clip about it.

In the video, he tells viewers to snap a shot of the van if anyone sees it on the streets, and post those pics to social media (and to make sure they tag the foundation too).

A van this distinct is going to be hard to miss.

A woman looking slightly shocked, then putting her hands over her eyes in circle shapes, as if they're binoculars.
Giphy | America's Got Talent

I can only imagine there are going to be a boatload of sightings of the Lt. Dan Van from now on. I mean, there’s no way you wouldn’t notice it driving around.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!