2019 Annual Report
We serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities.
From our Founder
Sometimes I’m asked the question, “With so many worthy causes, why have you spent so much time trying to help veterans?”
Our nation has been at war since the devastating attacks on 9/11. For the men and women who have volunteered to serve in harm's way, and in doing so have been severely injured or lost their lives while defending our freedom and way of life, we’re all part of a country that benefits from their selfless service. To me, the answer is rather simple and matter of fact: Why shouldn’t we do something for them?
From our chief executive officer
I am proud to report that in the fiscal year 2019, we witnessed unrivaled growth in the reach of our four programmatic service offerings, unlike at any other time in the foundation’s history. From humble beginnings in June 2011, the Gary Sinise Foundation is now leading from the front as we carry out the vision of our founder and chairman, in service to our nation’s heroes and their loved ones.
Through R.I.S.E., we’re building specially adapted smart homes for our most severely wounded heroes. We’re also providing home modifications, mobility devices, and adapted vehicles to our injured, wounded, ill, and/or aging heroes. More
SPECIALLY ADAPTED SMART HOMES
We’re constructing one-of-a-kind specially adapted smart homes for our nation’s most severely wounded veterans. These 100% mortgage-free homes ease the daily challenges faced by these heroes and their families who sacrifice alongside them. We’re helping restore their self-reliance and independence. More
wounded heroes moved into their new specially adapted smart homes
Highlight: caleb brewer
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Caleb Brewer and his Special Forces unit were conducting a large-scale clearing operation of a Taliban improvised explosive device (IED) factory in the Sangin District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in December 2015. As the unit moved through the area, a pressure-plate IED detonated beneath Caleb. The resulting injuries from the blast left him as a bilateral amputee.
On February 6, with his wife Ashley and their two daughters, Evelyn and Emily by his side, Caleb was given the keys to his specially adapted smart home built in Tucson, Arizona. The Brewer family home is modified in ways large and small to suit Caleb's prosthetics and wheelchair, from carpetless floors which provide ease of accessibility throughout the home to kitchen cabinets that can be pulled down, and an iPad that controls the entirety of the home.
HOME MODIFICATIONS, ADAPTED VEHICLES & MOBILITY DEVICES
Many wounded heroes lack the means to update their homes and customize their transportation to suit their individual needs. We’re providing our injured, wounded, ill and/or aging heroes with the resources they need to regain their mobility and independence. More
Highlight: lisa ramsey
Lisa Ramsey has been a police officer in the state of Texas since 1988. When she joined the Fort Worth Police Department in 1995 she was swiftly recruited into the Tactical Investigations Division to be a part of the vice and narcotics units.
She loved the excitement and adrenaline of the work she was doing — often as an undercover agent for narcotics missions — and felt proud of her service. When a drug bust went south on January 2, 2003, her life was permanently changed. Through the generosity of donors, the Gary Sinise Foundation was able to restore Ramsey’s autonomy and freedom of movement through the purchase of an ALLY chair. More
homes modified or retrofitted for defenders in need
adapted vehicles provided to improve everyday life
mobility devices provided to deserving heroes
Life can change in an instant, especially for our nation’s defenders. Our duty as citizens is to ensure these families stay strong through hardships by offering our complete support before, during, and after the battle. More
Year-round and nationwide, we’re serving children and families of fallen military heroes.We are committed to finding new and exciting ways to bring joy and happiness to these families. More
On August 4, families of fallen service members spent a fun-filled, educational day at the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. More than 70 children and their guardians enjoyed an up-close and interactive experience at Sea Lion Encounter where trained sea lions demonstrated their repertoire of tricks and commands by performing them in front of and next to the kids and their guardian. Complemented by classroom learning for the younger aged kids, and a live dolphin acrobatic show, lasting memories were made, new friendships developed, and stronger bonds formed for those enduring the pain of having lost a loved one in service to the country. More
children of the fallen and their surviving parent/guardian joined us for the annual Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express and at year-round community events
INVINCIBLE SPIRIT FESTIVALS
The heroic spirit displayed by our wounded service members through rehabilitation is an inspiration. Our Invincible Spirit Festivals celebrate the courage not only of these heroes but their families and caregivers as well. More
Honor. Gratitude. Rock & Roll. More than 6,500 service members and their families came out to our Invincible Spirit Festival on May 23 at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia. With the Lt. Dan Band jamming out popular singles over the course of the evening, our men and women in uniform and their families were treated to a hearty BBQ dinner made by an army of chefs plus tons of family entertainment which made for a fun night for everyone in attendance.
Since 2012, the Gary Sinise Foundation has hosted Invincible Spirit Festivals at our nation's military medical centers as a way to celebrate the courage of our injured heroes, their families, and the dedicated hospital staff.
GARY SINISE & THE LT. DAN BAND
Honor. Gratitude. Rock & Roll. That’s the mission of every Lt. Dan Band concert. There’s something for everyone as the thirteen-member group covers hits from every genre in their explosive live show. More
concerts (including 2 ISFs) performed for America’s heroes & their loved ones
The Fall Carnival at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego on September 13 went beyond expectations than its original billing as a free event with family-friendly activities, food trucks, and a live performance by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band. To a lot of service members and their families in attendance whose loved one was preparing for deployment or who had recently come back from deployment, the festivities took on greater significance.
Illuminated by a full moon in the sky, Camp Pendleton was aglow as Gary and the Lt. Dan Band brought honor, gratitude and rock n’ roll to service member’s families and the base community. The families of R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) specially adapted smart home recipients including retired Marines Brandon Dodson, Jason Ross, and Nick Kimmel were in attendance as were active duty Marines and sailors including Navy Corpsman, Austin Brown, his wife, and their two little girls. With Austin preparing to go overseas at the beginning of next year, the concert provided a perfect setting to enjoy time with his family. More
Company after company of soldiers paraded onto a soggy Wetherby Field at Fort Benning, Georgia in the lead up to the evening’s Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band concert on August 3. An hour before showtime, a downpour of rain engulfed the area with intermittent flashes of lightning which threatened to postpone or even cancel the concert.
With Gold Star families in attendance along with soldiers, their families, and those from the surrounding community, everyone waited in anticipation for a night of honor, gratitude and rock and roll. When the band finally came on stage, a sea of civilians and battle dress uniformed troops greeted them with a thunder of applause. More
H.O.P.E. (HEAL, OVERCOME, PERSEVERE & EXCEL)
Our H.O.P.E. program provides complete support to those who have experienced trauma, illness, injury, or loss during their times of urgent need, sometimes with assistance as simple as help paying bills or buying groceries.
New Jersey paramedic Joshua Fish was in need of serious help. The rigors of the job were taking an unhealthy toll on him. Alcohol became his saving grace to quell the pain and mental fatigue he felt after years of responding to scenes of carnage and loss of life. Post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression dogged him. When he quit his job in early 2019 to seek treatment and rehabilitation, Josh saw his life steadily improve.
At the same time, bills began to pile up to the point where he was struggling to put food on the table. Josh was in dire financial need and unemployed by the time he reached out to the Gary Sinise Foundation for help. More
“It’s an exciting opportunity to come and be with other surviving widows that are going through the same pain I’m going through,” said one of our Gold Star spouses as she and many others attended the Gary Sinise Foundation Hollywood Adventure experience. In September, the Foundation had the opportunity to host Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) of fallen military heroes in Los Angeles for a three-day adventure.
The weekend kicked off with a fun-filled evening at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, followed by visits to the Canyon Salon and the set of NCIS at CBS studios. The trip concluded with a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Universal Studios.
Through strategic partnerships, we’re addressing the mental health needs of our nation’s service members, first responders and veterans through innovative and empowering treatment methods. More
In our efforts to expand the Foundation's mental health initiatives, we've joined with Brothers at War Resiliency Program whose documentary parallels the realities of sacrifices made by those deployed to a combat zone with those waiting at home. The film and accompanying workbook are continuing to roll out to deploying members of the Armed Forces and those recently returned.
In 2019, the Gary Sinise Foundation sponsored a “Brothers at War” Resiliency Workshop held at military installations around the country. Participants included members from the Kansas National Guard, patients at Fort Belvoir Medical Hospital, and airmen from Shaw Air Force Base.
detailed evaluation and treatment
We’re also continuing to support the transformative work being done at the Marcus Institute for Brain Health at the University of Colorado, whose contributions to the healthcare of our nation’s military service members are saving countless lives. Their research is uncovering innovative treatment methods to address the invisible wounds that continue to plague our Armed Forces, especially traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
vets for vets
Veterinarians from Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences, in partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation, are providing free medical care to police K-9s and service dogs utilized by the military, first responders, and veterans.
In collaboration with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Boulder Crest Retreat, we’re connecting wounded veterans from different military conflicts. Over seven days, veterans come together to heal and find renewed strength to overcome their challenges.
never alone retreats
Widows of Heroes is a retreat where military and first responder widows can come together to be inspired, supported, and enveloped in a community.
articipants in our Boulder Crest Mentorship Retreats
Members from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, reunited in November after nearly a 10-year hiatus. Combat deployments to Afghanistan had taken a deadly toll on their unit, as did suicide on the homefront.
“It was something they needed that they didn’t realize they needed until they were actually there,” said retired Army Staff Sergeant George Serrano, one of the organizers of the retreat which was funded by the Gary Sinise Foundation. The bonds of brotherhood Charlie Company had formed years ago at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and that was tested and proven resilient while under enemy fire from Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan needed to be rekindled.
During a weekend-long retreat in Dripping Springs, Texas, members of Charlie Company regrouped alongside several Gold Star families for a reunion that was as much about honoring the fallen as it was in rekindling relationships with one another. More
We’re working to bridge the gap between our defender and civilian communities. Honoring America’s heroes both past and present, and inspiring the next generation to do the same, is a responsibility we all share. More
We’re bringing World War II veterans and their guardians to New Orleans to tour The National WWII Museum built in their honor. Their experience includes entertainment, celebratory meals, and community building with their fellow heroes. Students who accompany our veterans carry on their stories with a new appreciation for the sacrifices made by an entire generation. More
During the final week of September, the 17th trip of Soaring Valor brought together 34 veterans from the Greatest Generation and 41 upperclassmen from Del Valle High School in Travis County, Texas. Paired together during the three-day trip, veterans and students embarked on a shared journey at the National WWII Museum that was a deeply personal retrospective into each veteran's experience during the Second World War.
The students selected to partake in the three-day trip first received nominations from their counselors, teachers, athletics coaches, and club leaders, including band and Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). Their outstanding grades and good academic standing, having already learned about WWII history, equipped students with the proper foundation and a curious outlook to make the most of the experience at the museum alongside their assigned veteran. More
veterans and their guardians joined us for a soaring valor experience
high school students accompanied our veterans
Nothing offers an opportunity to bond and give thanks quite like breaking bread together. We’re showing gratitude to our defenders by serving them hearty, classic American meals nationwide and at military outposts in Germany and Korea. More
hunter army airfield
“I always knew he was a supporter of the military, but he really gives back more than any other popular sports or entertainment figures. I really appreciate that.” Private First Class Raiford of the 1st Battalion - 75th Ranger Regiment was one of 300 service members who were honored and served at Hunter Army Airfield on August 2 as part of Serving Heroes.
We’re able to show our gratitude to our men and women in uniform by breaking bread together over hearty American meals, which builds camaraderie and fosters a deeper sense of community. Working alongside our USO partners, soldiers, Marines, and guardsmen based at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield enjoyed Smokin Pig BBQ served by Gary Sinise, who, at the end of lunch, gave an address of appreciation and thanks for their selfless service.
Far from home and for many unable to leave the Army base ahead of Thanksgiving, service members at Fort Bragg in North Carolina were honored before turkey day, with a hot meal complete with all the bells and whistles: turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and mouthwatering dessert.
meals served to our defenders across the nation and overseas
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT OUTREACH
Anyone who has served our nation is welcome to join us for a “Vets Night” dinner and dress rehearsal performance free of charge at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. We’re expanding this program to more venues and locations across the nation. More
On November 16, Hollywood American Legion Post 43 hosted an unforgettable evening with comedian, veteran, and Gary Sinise Foundation ambassador, Tom Dreesen, who paid tribute to our nation’s service members, first responders, veterans, and their families. Attendees were regaled by Tom's stories about Gary Sinise, the work being done by the Foundation, and, to the delight of everyone in the audience, insider stories about touring alongside the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.
veterans joined us for a “Vets Night” performance
Our Ambassadors represent the Gary Sinise Foundation in speaking engagements, public appearances, and leadership opportunities. Each member is individually selected by our founder for their exceptional character and patriotism. More
ambassadors are representing the Gary Sinise Foundation
community & education
Opened in 2017, our Education & Outreach Center is bringing civilians and defenders together. Through speaking series, workshops, and summits, our hosted events focus on character building exercises and educating communities about the importance of service over self. More
In September, the Gary Sinise Foundation hosted a group of Los Angeles-area veterans, veteran aviation and military aficionados, at the Center for Education and Outreach. Called Wings Over Wendy's, the jovial group includes veterans who served their country as far back as WWII, including Leon Waldman who served in the Army Air Corps aboard a B-17 as a waist gunner. He flew 50 missions in the European Theater. Fellow veteran Barney Leone served in the South Pacific during WWII onboard a Navy fuel ship and in February 1945, witnessed the raising of the American flag by U.S. Marines on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. "No one prepared to die but we were ready to die for our country and freedom," said Barney about his military service during the war.
bridging the gap
With less than 1% of our population in the armed services today, and all serving on a volunteer basis, our military and civilian communities rarely interact. This facility provides a casual, communal environment to bring these two worlds together for constructive dialogues and inspiring events.
A service member’s successful transition to civilian life starts with a welcoming community. Our forthcoming multimedia exhibit and student tours will help instill visitors of all ages with a new respect for our defenders and raise awareness about the heroes living among them.
Our firefighters, police, and EMTs are indispensable to the safety of our communities. We provide funds for equipment and training to ensure these heroes can perform to the best of their abilities. More
dewitt volunteer fire department
First responders from the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department in agriculture-rich Eastern Iowa were able to invest in life-saving equipment for their ambulance through a grant provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation to purchase a power cot and power loading system. These two essential pieces of equipment allow first responders to safely and effectively care for patients utilizing a powered wheeled stretcher to support and transport them. The cot's battery-powered hydraulic system raises and lowers the patient, which creates less stress on the body and exposure to injury for paramedics and firefighters.
When the sirens are blaring, and there is a dire need for help, the all-volunteer force of DeWitt first responders is ensuring that their community is safe and taken care of. Their motto, "Protecting the Crossroads," in reference to the city's location at the crossroads of four-lane Highways 30 and 61 and part of the historic Lincoln Highway, guides them in serving the more than 5,000 residents who call DeWitt home.
jackson township fire and rescue department
In November, volunteer firefighters from Jackson Township Fire and Rescue Department in Ohio put their life-saving gear to the test when they were able to extract and rescue 16-year-old Desiree Swepston, who was trapped in her vehicle after it had collided head-on with a truck along a rural, backcountry road.
Her life was saved because the fire department had, months before, received a grant from the Gary Sinise Foundation that went to purchase what's called the Jaws of Life, which is a tool that uses hydraulic pressure to pry, cut, and lift heavy objects. When a life is on the line and when essential gear is needed most, stories like Desiree’s reinforce our call to action in making sure first responder departments nationwide can execute their jobs with the proper tools in hand. More
grants were awarded to police, firefighters & EMTs nationwide
essential pieces of equipment were donated by the Gary Sinise Foundation
We are supported by more than 100,000 donors and cherish the trust of each one. Above all, we are committed to fiscal responsibility, efficiency, and low overhead in all we do.
For 2019, we are proud to report that 87.82% of every dollar contributed was applied directly to support our nation’s defenders and their loved ones.
Statement of financial position
(december 31, 2019)
statement of activities
(for the year ended december 31, 2019)
Board of Directors
Gary Sinise (Chairman)
General Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army (Ret.)
John D. Heubusch
Pastor (Pat) Velasco
Gregory D. Gadson, U.S. Army (Ret.) Colonel
Steven B. Hantler
U.S. Army (Ret.) Maj. Gen. Clayton M. Hutmacher
U.S. Army (Ret.) Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch & Sarah Lynch
David J. McIntyre, Jr.
Anthony J. Saliba
Thank you for supporting the
GARY SINISE FOUNDATION
To make a donation or for more information:
Gary Sinise Foundation
PO Box 368
Woodland Hills, CA 91365
Email: [email protected]