According to Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Gary Sinise, known for playing the titular Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump,” the skills that veterans learn in the military can be highly valuable to companies in the civilian world. Sinise joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss veteran support initiatives surrounding mental health, employment, and entrepreneurship.
“Military skills retooled and retrained into the civilian sector can be very, very beneficial to any company,” Sinise said. “And we're trying to provide services at the Gary Sinise Foundation, or at least point people in the right direction.”
President Joe Biden recently met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah in Washington on Friday, June 25, where he called on Afghans to decide the future of their country amid Taliban advances as the last American troops withdraw following a decades-long war.
Sinise commented on the struggles that many veterans face in their reintegration with civilian life after returning from overseas.
“[Transitioning out of the military] is always a difficult challenge, especially if you've been in the military for a long period of time,” Sinise said. “So these are people from all over the country, various small towns, large cities across the nation. And they may be seeking employment. They may have mental wellness issues that they have to face, that they have to deal with.”
Sinise pointed to Bob Evans’s Heroes to CEOs program, a part of its Our Farm Salutes initiative, as being a successful supporter of veteran entrepreneurs. The Heroes to CEOs program supports different causes started by veterans across the U.S. by awarding business grants totalling $100,000. Our Farm Salutes aims to support service members, veterans, and their families through volunteerism, strategic partnerships, grant opportunities, awareness, and donations.
The Gary Sinise Foundation has worked closely with Bob Evans throughout the past five years to provide services and guidance to veterans making the transition back to civilian life, according to Sinise. The foundation provides mental health services through its Avalon Network, a cognitive health and mental wellness network specializing in providing care to veterans and first responders experiencing post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and substance abuse. He believes nonprofits and other veterans’ initiatives undertaken by corporations provide important resources for ex-servicemembers.
“We're teaming up with some very good businesses and corporate leaders to try and do more for the men and women who serve our country,” Sinise added.
As for how Sinise became involved with the cause of supporting veterans, he said that the journey began long before he portrayed a Vietnam veteran on the big screen.
“Veterans in my own family—that's where it starts,” Sinise said. “I got involved with supporting Vietnam veterans back in the '80s, prior to playing a Vietnam veteran in ‘Forrest Gump’ when I got involved with supporting our wounded. And then September 11 came along.”
Thomas Hum is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @thomashumTV
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