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Gary Sinise, the actor who played Lieutenant Dan, on supporting troops returning home

Actor and advocate Gary Sinise joined Yahoo Finance to discuss veteran support initiatives.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: President Biden meeting with Afghanistan's leaders at the White House last week as the countries prepare for the US to pull the troops out, pull forces out of Afghanistan by September 11. We want to talk a little bit more about this and how to better support the veterans who will be coming home. And for that, we want to bring in actor and activist Gary Sinise, who has spent years raising money and awareness for veterans. You also have a partnership with Bob Evans Farms to support military heroes and their families.

Gary, thanks so much for joining us today. We know that this is a cause that is near and dear to your heart, something that you have spent hours and hours, years, working on, something you have devoted time and money to. I guess, the big question is, as we prepare to welcome back so many of these troops who have been overseas now for so long, what does America need to do to better prepare them, to better incorporate them in society and prepare them for coming home?

GARY SINISE: Well, thank you for having me. Good to be with you. Our military has been coming and going from Afghanistan now for 20 years. But now we're finishing that mission. We're bringing them home. Some of them will continue to stay in the military. So it's a little bit different for them. They'll still have their bonding community. And they'll be going on to the next mission, whatever that may be.

But for some of them, they'll be transitioning out of the military. And that's always a difficult challenge, especially if you've been in the military for a long period of time. 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 be-- they may have mental wellness issues that they have to face, that they have to deal with.

Thankfully, there are multiple nonprofits that are in this space that are supporting them and multiple corporations that have veterans' initiatives within their companies to provide services for our veterans, just like Bob Evans Farms, partnering with the non-profit Gary Sinise Foundation to help us provide services and where we can help to promote the services that they are initiating.

One of those is called Our Farm Salutes. You can learn more about Our Farm Salutes by going to the grocery store and going to the refrigerator department there, where all the frozen products are. And you can see the Bob Evans purple packaging there. And when you get that purple packaging, you can learn more about the initiatives that they have at Bob Evans.

They've been a good partner to us, to the Gary Sinise Foundation on and off over the last five years. And we're proud to be teaming up with them again to make sure that those coming home and those transitioning have-- know where to turn and know where the services that are provided for them.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Hey, Gary, Brian Cheung here. I want to ask you about other initiatives that you're also working on. You mentioned the partnership with Bob Evans Farms, but there's also an initiative, I understand, to help entrepreneurial veterans, those hoping to start businesses, which, right now, might actually be a great time to start a new business, given just the disruption that we've seen with COVID and people wanting to go out and spend money. So tell us a little bit more about what you're doing on that front.

GARY SINISE: Yeah, that's a-- well, we're trying to provide services at the Gary Sinise Foundation wherever we can and support. Bob Evans specifically has one called Heroes to CEOs. And they are providing support for young entrepreneurs that want to start their own businesses. And you can-- look, I was involved with an initiative way back when we were trying to retool military skills, skills learned within the military services toward the manufacturing sector. There are hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs available. People can't-- and not enough people to fill them.

But military skills retooled and retrained into the civilian sector can be very, very beneficial to any company. And we're trying to provide services at the Gary Sinise Foundation, or at least, point people in the right direction. The Bob Evans Heroes to CEOs, that's something you can learn about at Our Farm Salutes. Just go to the Bob Evans website, and you can learn more about their services for veterans.

We have mental wellness services at the Gary Sinise Foundation. One is called the Avalon Network that we've partnered up with Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot. And Arthur Blank is the other co-founder at Home Depot. They are providing support for the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon network in partnership with the Boulder Crest Foundation and the Marcus Institute for Brain Health. These are mental wellness organizations that are specifically focused on the challenges that military service members are facing after their service.

And we're trying to expand the retreats through Boulder Crest-- these are a series of retreats around the country-- and clinics through Marcus Institute for Brain Health. So 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.

SEANA SMITH: Gary, we only have about a minute here. And it's a bit of a loaded question to wrap it all into one minute. But just talk to us real quick, if you can, just, how you got involved in this and how-- why this issue and why this cause is so important to you.

GARY SINISE: Veterans in my own family-- that's where it starts. 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.

And I write about this in my book. It's called "Grateful American, A Journey from Self to Service." And there's a chapter called "Turning Point." And it's the September 11 chapter, talking about the '80s and '90s and all that in preparation for this call to action after September 11 and the deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq of our troops and wanting to do as much as I can to help them and their families.

SEANA SMITH: Gary Sinise, award-winning actor. You might know him as Lieutenant Dan from "Forrest Gump." Gary, great to speak with you. Thanks for taking the time to--