Our Ambassadors Council represents the Gary Sinise Foundation and its mission through speaking engagements, public appearances and leadership opportunities
Each member is individually selected by our founder for their exceptional character and patriotism.
As spokespersons, they proudly share our accomplishments and aspirations as well as their own stories of service. Located throughout the nation, our ambassadors inspire and educate new supporters by forming meaningful, personal connections.
“Our heroes deserve the best everything when they come home and unfortunately not everyone is taken care of...GSF has built houses for hard cases that would not have an easy life or living situation otherwise. We owe everything we have to our soldiers and as a soldier I’m not going to let anyone fall through the cracks!"
Bryan enlisted in the Army in April 2001 and had a 'ship out' date of September 11, 2001. He served two tours of duty in Iraq and was stationed in the Baghdad area. He attained the rank of Sergeant in the Military Police (MP), conducted police training courses in Iraq and gained additional law enforcement experience at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary as a prison guard.
In October 2005, Bryan was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that resulted in the loss of both legs and his left hand. As a result of his injuries, he was awarded a Purple Heart. Bryan received rehabilitation for a period of 13 months at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He is one of the few triple amputees to have survived his injuries in Iraq.
Bryan is the National Spokesman for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility Corp., and travels the country making numerous personal appearances while delivering his message of perseverance and determination in major rehab facilities. In addition, he is a spokesman for USA Cares, a non-profit organization based in Radcliff, KY that is focused on assisting post 9/11 veterans in times of need.
Sammy L. Davis, Medal Of Honor Recipient
“A true American hero, Gary Sinise selflessly spearheads a Foundation dedicated to caring for others. All financial resources raised go directly to serve veterans, first responders and families who are in need. I am proud to serve as a Gary Sinise Foundation Ambassador."
Sammy L. Davis was born in Dayton, Ohio and was raised in French Camp, California. His family has a long tradition of military service; his grandfather served in the Spanish-American War, his father Robert Davis was in World War II, and his brothers Hubert ("Buddy") and Darrell Davis served in Korea and Germany.
On November 18, 1967, Sammy was serving as a private first class with Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam. On that day, his unit was west of Cai Lay when they fell under heavy mortar attack by the Viet Cong. Upon detecting an enemy position, Sammy manned a machine gun to give his comrades covering fire. Although he was severely wounded, Sammy ignored warnings to take cover and manned his unit's howitzer artillery gun, and fired several shells on his own. With wounds that prevented him from being able to swim, Sammy crossed a river on an air mattress to help rescue three wounded American soldiers. He ultimately found his way to another howitzer artillery gun and continued fighting the Viet Cong attack until they fled. Sammy was subsequently promoted to sergeant and received the Medal of Honor the following year, in 1968.
Drew Dix, Medal Of Honor Recipient
"As Gary says, there's no mountain too high or ocean too wide to keep us from getting to you. Whether on the battle field or back home, the Gary Sinise Foundation touches so many personally. There is no waste, no fluff... Just down to earth Americanism at its finest helping those who have made sacrifices for us.
Drew joined the US Army in 1962 at the age of seventeen. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and deployed to the Dominican Republic for his first combat tour. He remained with the 82nd until he met the age requirements for the US Army Special Forces.
While stationed in Chau Doc Province on the Cambodian border, Staff Sergeant Dix was out on a routine patrol on January 31, 1968 when the enemy launched a surprise attack. Reacting quickly, he successfully rescued a nurse who was trapped in a house in the center of Chau Phu city. Over the course of the next two days, Dix organized and led a twenty person team, ultimately saving the lives of fourteen civilians from buildings that were under heavy attack. For his heroic acts Dix was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Nixon at the White House on January 16, 1969, becoming the first Army Special Forces officer to receive the award.
Drew retired from the State of Alaska as a Deputy Commissioner within the Department of military and Veterans affairs, and served as Alaska's first Director of Homeland Security.
He is also is the Co-Founder of the "Center for American Values" in Pueblo, Colorado where he serves as the Board Chairman. He continues to be very active with the military, speaking to those deploying and, or returning from deployment and is heavily engaged with TriWest Healthcare Alliance and the Department of Defense on matters pertaining to Post Traumatic stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
"I believe in my heart that Gary and all of the staff work to provide so much more than building houses, they are building lifelong relationships, awareness empowering younger warriors with a voice to be heard...to never let any defenders of our nation be mistreated or be forgotten."
Juan joined the Marine Corps as part of a family military tradition carried on by his father, uncles and grandfather. He began boot camp in September 2007 at MCRD in San Diego and after graduating meritoriously as a Private First Class, headed to the School of Infantry West. Upon completion of his military occupational specialty, Juan joined the Unit 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and set off on The 31st MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) in January 2009. Soon after, he was headed to Afghanistan.
On the morning of October 23rd, 2010 in Helmand Province Sangin Afghanistan, as point man for a team of twenty-five, Juan stepped on a pressure-plated plastic jug IED (Improvised Explosive Device). The ensuing blast sent him fifteen feet in the air. He lost both legs above the knee and later, his right arm above the elbow. He has since been diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress. Since that day, he has endured more than twenty-five surgeries.
Juan has been awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Navy Unit Citation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with star, Global War On Terrorism Service Medal, NATO ISAF Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with star.
"If it wasn't for the United States Military there would be no United States of America. Plain and Simple. They sacrificed for us and now we must do all we can for them. The Gary Sinise Foundation has and continues to do an outstanding service to our returning disabled veterans by building them 'Smart Homes' so they can move about freely with dignity. I am honored to be a GSF Ambassador."
Dreesen has made over 500 appearances on national television as a stand-up comedian, including more than 60 appearances on The Tonight Show. He is a favorite guest of David Letterman, and frequently hosts the show in Letterman's absence. For 13 years he toured the country opening for Frank Sinatra, and has appeared countless times in Las Vegas, Tahoe, Reno and Atlantic City. Dreesen is currently appearing to rave reviews around the country in his one-man show "An Evening Of Laughter and Memories of Sinatra." Dreesen's comic style is down-to-earth, warm and unpretentious.
Dreesen has also made an indelible mark with his philanthropic activities. For 30 years he has lent his talent to over 100 charities, and founded a "Day for Darlene" to beneﬁt Multiple Sclerosis Research. A proud veteran of the United States Navy, he continues to perform for US troops all over the world, and recently appeared at numerous bases in Iraq. Tom Dreesen's hometown of Harvey, Illinois named a street after him. He was a 2005 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Mary Jean Eisenhower
"I have worked with Gary Sinise since 2004 and watched him work tirelessly with the Armed Forces, veterans and their families, all the while holding down a more than full time endeavor. He is a man that opens his eyes in the morning and is already thinking of miraculous ways to make life better for someone else. I am very honored to be an Ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation."
Mary Jean Eisenhower was born in Washington, D.C. The granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, she grew up near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania before her father was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Belgium and relocated the family abroad.
As Chairman Emeritus of People to People International (PTPI), Mary has traveled to more than 75 countries, visiting demining teams and Peace Camps while supporting student and cultural programs. She established the PTPI Friendship Fund as a way to give back to the facilities and friends PTPI visits globally.
Mary also launched “Peace Camp 2003: An Evolution of Thought & Action” and “The Global Peace Initiative”. These efforts brought people from more than 30 nationalities together to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey to discuss issues and reach a better understanding of their individual cultures.
Among her many notable honors, Mary has received the Knight of Peace Award from the International University in Italy, the Medal of Honor from the Slovak Republic, The Consular Corps Award of Excellence, The Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service, and the Friendship Ambassador from The People’s Republic of China. She also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Schiller International University, Park University and William Jewell College.
Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, USA (retired)
“Gary Sinise is one of our nation’s greatest patriots — not only in word but in deed and action. The Gary Sinise Foundation is one of the benchmark organizations making truly lasting and impactful support to warriors and their families during our nations’ longest war. I can personally attest to the profound impact he’s has had on so many and I’m truly honored and proud to represent GSF as an ambassador.”
Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, a Chesapeake, VA native, served our nation in the United States Army for more than 26 years.
Col. Gadson’s life is a portrait of courage in the face of great adversity. In May 2007, as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, Col. Gadson’s greatest challenge came in Iraq, where an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand. Despite this, Gadson remained on active duty in the Army and continued to inspire many with his message of courage, perseverance, determination and teamwork.
Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant of Field Artillery in 1989 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Greg served in every major conflict of the past two decades, including Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Greg continues a very energetic and dynamic lifestyle where he continues to serve his nation as an entrepreneur and managing partner of Patriot Strategies, LLC, a government services company.
Greg’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit (2); Bronze Stars (3); Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal (3) and the Army Commendation Medal (3). He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and holds masters degrees in Information Systems from Webster University; and Policy Management from Georgetown University. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Webster University.
Chef Robert Irvine
“The Gary Sinise Foundation is an amazing organization devoted to honoring the sacrifices made by the men and women defending our country. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to be involved and look forward to continuing my support of the Foundation’s efforts."
With more than 25 years in the culinary profession, there aren’t many places Chef Robert Irvine hasn’t cooked or challenges he hasn’t had to cook his way out of. During his time in the British Royal Navy and in the years that followed, Robert has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels, on the high seas and even for the Academy Awards; and that was before his career in TV.
As the host of one of the Food Network’s highest rated shows, Restaurant: Impossible, going on it’s 10th season, Robert is best known for saving struggling restaurants across America by assessing and overhauling the restaurant’s weakest spots.
Going on its third year, Robert continues to tour his live show, Robert Irvine LIVE, across the US. Robert also operates Robert Irvine’s Nosh, a restaurant in Hilton Head South Carolina, and is the author of two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! and Impossible to Easy. Robert was previously the host of A Hero’s Welcome, Food Network’s Restaurant Express, Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America. In 2014, with proceeds from his various ventures and contributions from his fans, Robert launched the Robert Irvine Foundation to benefit members of our military, first responders and their families.
"It is of the highest importance that service members, first responders, and all those who fight for the cause of freedom for our great country be able to experience the total freedom that they fight for. Freedom costs, and is paid for with a very high price, it must not be taken for granted. Gary Sinise and GSF understand the high price of freedom that all service members pay. He continuously fights for those who fight for us all."
U.S Army Master Sgt. Cedric King grew up as a single child in a single-parent home. As a teen he spent most of his time playing basketball, working and with his mother. Cedric joined the military in 1995 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. After changing his focus from aviation operations specialist to infantry, Cedric was able to graduate from the US Army Ranger school. During his third deployment, on July 25, 2012 in Afghanistan, his platoon conducted a reconnaissance of a possible explosives distributor in the village creating improvised explosive devices (IED). As Cedric got closer to the hut, the force of a bomb lifted him off his feet and threw him back. He sustained right hand disfigurement and became a bi-lateral amputee.
Since his injury Cedric has earned numerous medals and awards, ran marathons and climbed mountains. His plans for the future are to finish graduate school, complete a full Ironman, continue motivational speaking, climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, launch a nonprofit organization that gives back to low-income communities and provide a home for his wife and daughters to begin again. Cedric says "Love comes from the part of us that is not visible from the outside. It's the part of us that you can't touch but you can definitely feel".
US Army (Ret.) Lt. Gen Rick Lynch
"I have never met an individual who cares more about our nation's military and their families than Gary Sinise. Gary invests his time, energy, and personal resources into helping those American heroes in their time of need. He is an American treasure."
General Lynch attended West Point. He was commissioned as an Army Engineer Officer and commanded both a Mobile Assault Bridge Company and a Combat Engineer Company in the 2nd Armored Division.
He branched transferred to Armor and subsequently commanded a tank battalion (1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division) and a tank brigade (1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division).
General Lynch was promoted to Brigadier General in 2001. He served as the Assistant Division Commander, 4th Infantry Division, Chief of Staff, Kosovo Forces, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations for Joint Force Command Naples, Italy. He served in Iraq as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects and the spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq from 2005-2006.
He commanded the 3rd Infantry Division from 2006-2008. During that time he deployed the Division to Iraq as part of the Surge, and commanded Task Force Marne in Iraq for 15 months. After redeployment, he was selected to command III Corps and Fort Hood, TX.
General Lynch’s last position in the Army was as the Commanding General, Installation Management Command and the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
After retirement, General Lynch became the Executive Director of the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute. General Lynch is now the CEO of his own company, RLynch Enterprises. He consults, makes presentations, and recently published a book on adaptive leadership entitled Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles from an American General. He and his wife Sarah reside in Southlake, Texas.
“When I met Gary Sinise I could tell immediately that he truly cared not just for our Service members, but for their families as well. Our military families need love and support, and the Gary Sinise Foundation is providing that.”
Sarah has an undying passion for our soldiers and their families. She is the youngest of six children born into a military family. Her father retired from the Army as a Master Sergeant after 21 years of service. Her mother served as a medic in the Women's Army Corps in WWII.
Sarah met her husband Lieutenant General Rick Lynch while he was stationed at Fort Hood. They married in 1982 and for 30 years they served the Army as a command team. As a senior spouse and "First Lady" of both the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, and III Corps and Fort Hood, Sarah focused her attention toward soldiers and their families to ensure their quality of life was commensurate with their quality of service.
While serving in the Army, she and Rick raised two children, Susan and Lucas. During their 30 years together in the Army, she and Rick moved twenty-seven times while Sarah took care of their family and supported other families as well.
Sarah served as an advocate for soldiers and their families and aimed to reach the issues which affected their well-being. She was most passionate about Survivor Outreach Services, the Exceptional Family Member Program, Family Readiness Groups, Resiliency, and Child and Youth Services.
Sarah has taught 3rd through 12th grade in public school systems including soldiers while stationed in Germany and at Fort Knox. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Health and holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Louisville.
“Abraham Lincoln once said, 'To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.' No one does more to live by these words than the Gary Sinise Foundation. For that reason I’m proud to be an ambassador of this exemplary organization."
Joe was awarded the Tony and Joseph Jefferson Award for his acclaimed performance as Richard Roma in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. Some of Joe's film and television highlights are; House of Games, Searching for Bobby Fisher, Godfather III, the role of Dean Martin in The Ratpack, and the voice of Fat Tony on The Simpsons. For two seasons Joe stared with Mary Steenburgen and Amber Tamblyn in the critically acclaimed CBS drama Joan of Arcadia, winner of the 2004 People Choice Award for best new drama as well as picking up three Emmy nominations. In 2008, Joe reprised his Emmy nominated role of Lou Manahan opposite Debra Messing in USA Network series The Starter Wife. In April of 2011, Joe received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Joe recently completed the feature films The Bronx Bull, Ten Cent Pistol and Compulsion. He is also co-producer of a documentary on the late Science Fiction Icon Ray Bradbury. Currently Joe stars as FBI Special Agent David Rossi in season six of the Hit CBS Drama "Criminal Minds" as well as hosting and producing duties on "Gun Stories" for the Outdoor Channel.
In May of 2012, Joe was appointed the National Spokesperson for The U.S. Army Museum, to lead the fundraising campaign to build the long-planned National Museum of the United States Army.
"It is important for me to support the Gary Sinise Foundation so that I may honor the countless selfless acts of all our nation's defenders. It's for all the sacrifices of those men and women who came before us, those now among us, and for those who will surely follow in order to secure America's freedom."
In 1989, John Masson enlisted in the U.S. Army as part of his family's multi-generational tradition of military service. He has served in the 1st Armored Division in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm, the 82nd Airborne Division, the Indiana Army National Guard with the 151st Infantry Detachment (LRS), and earned a RANGER Tab as well as his Green Beret and Special Forces tab. In 2006, he was deployed as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant (18D) with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008. Two years later, he was deployed to Afghanistan serving on ODA 2325.
On October 16, 2010, while conducting Village Stability Operations in Kandahar Province, John stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) losing both his legs and his dominant left hand. Immediate medical treatment by his fellow Medical Sergeant and teammates saved his life. John was then taken to his family and friends at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for further surgeries and recovery. While working countless hours with an amazing staff of doctors, nurses, therapists and volunteers, John was medically retired from the Army in 2012 having served for sixteen years.
In addition to his Ambassadorship for the Gary Sinise Foundation, John has spoken at military fundraising events held by Carrington Charitable Foundation, Veterans Airlift Command, Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH) and Ride2Recovery.
SSG Travis Mills
"It is a true honor to serve as an Ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation. The Gary Sinise Foundation has provided my family and I with so much more than a home. It is our duty to continue to support our wounded service men and women and provide them with the necessary freedoms to continue life without limitations. I am honored to play a small part in such an influential organization."
On April 10, 2012, United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. While on patrol, an IED (improvised explosive device) blast took portions of his legs and both arms. He is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries.
Thanks to his amazing strength, courage and will to live, as well as the heroic actions of the men in his unit and the healthcare providers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Travis remains on the road to recovery. Every day is a battle, but he continues to astound friends and family with his remarkable progress and indomitable spirit.
Travis retired from the United States Army in November 2013. Looking to the future, he established the Travis Mills Foundation and Travis Mills Group, LLC. Today, he consults with organizations nationwide and serves as a public speaker, inspiring others to overcome their own life challenges.
Last year, Travis and his young family moved into their custom Smart Home constructed through the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program.
SSG Travis Mills is a true American hero. For his incredible sacrifice, our nation will remain forever in his debt.
Jason C. Redman
“The future of our nation depends on its citizens recognizing the cost of freedom and honoring its sacrifice. Gary Sinise and his amazing foundation exist to recognize, serve, and honor this very statement, which is why I am humbled and proud to be an ambassador for this great organization."
LT Jason Redman joined the Navy on September 11, 1992 and spent 11 years as an enlisted SEAL. He was commissioned in May of 2004 as a Naval SEAL Officer. In May of 2006, he graduated from US Army Ranger School and deployed to Fallujah, Iraq the following year.
On September 13, 2007 while acting as Assault Force Commander to capture an Al Qaeda High Value Individual, LT Redman’s Assault Team came under heavy machine gun and small arms fire and he was severely wounded in the ensuing firefight.
LT Redman was taken to Bethesda Naval Medical Center to begin his path towards recovery. After 37 surgeries, Jason uses his positive attitude to motivate others and to continue to raise awareness of the sacrifices of America’s military forces and their families. This drive led him to create Wounded Wear, a Non-Profit.
In Jason’s spare time he speaks across the country, and has had the opportunity to speak to many great organizations, spreading his message of life, inspiration, and shedding light on those who have sacrificed. In 2010 he was named the recipient of the Hope and Courage award. The Hampton Roads community and Wendy’s recognized him with their Military Hero award in 2013. That December, Jason was awarded the 2013 Still Serving Veteran of the Year Award.
His personal military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (five awards), and Combat Action Ribbon (two awards).
"There are a lot of organizations working with veterans, but GSF is leading the way. It’s truly inspiring to see the support they give to veterans from all eras as well as their families. I’m extremely honored to be an Ambassador to GSF and help them with their mission."
After 14 years of service, Michael Schlitz medically retired from the United States Army in March of 2010. Throughout his military career, he served in several positions from Rifleman to Platoon Sergeant. In addition to his Purple Heart, Schlitz has received the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Good Conduct Award among others, each a reflection of his proud service to our country.
In February of 2007, Schlitz and his platoon were in Southern Baghdad performing a basic road-clearing mission to identify Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's) when two artillery shells attached to a propane tank exploded. Though Schlitz was thrown from the vehicle and survived, the blast killed his driver, gunner and medic. Schlitz not only lost his platoon brothers that day, he also sustained burns on 85% of his body, lost the vision in his left eye and both of his hands.
In his mission to give back to Veteran and Ranger Communities, Schlitz regularly travels the country for speaking engagements and veterans events. Since the accident, he has returned to Iraq three times to mentor wounded and non-wounded veterans, supported the establishment of several new non-profit organizations, and had the honor of speaking at the US Army Ranger Graduation class on Veterans Day 2011.
Leslie Nicole Smith
I have seen the uplifting and positive impact that Gary and the Foundation have made on so many… His ability to make a difference is so empowering and encourages us to persevere when faced with adversity. Serving as an Ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation is the greatest honor for me.”
Army Captain (ret.) Leslie Nicole Smith graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia and received her commission from the Army ROTC program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She was assigned to the Nuclear Biological Chemical Corps and attended the Army Defense Information School, which enabled her to serve as a Public Affairs Officer as well.
Leslie deployed to Bosnia in September 2001 with the 29th Infantry Division for Stabilization Force 10 during Operation Joint Forge. She developed a blood clot and returned stateside two weeks before the end of her deployment. Leslie was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for complications resulting from exposure to a chemical agent or toxin. Ultimately, Leslie lost her left leg and the majority of her vision.
Staying positive, Leslie forged ahead and now advocates for veterans. Most recently, she received a Secretarial Appointment to the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, participates with the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and serves as the official Ambassador for Wreaths Across America.
Leslie is a certified peer mentor and a spokesperson for organizations including Canines for Veterans, the USO, the Fisher House Foundation, Fatigues to Fabulous, and the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. Leslie has appeared on Days of Our Lives and Lifetime’s Project Runway All Stars to raise awareness for our nation’s women veterans.
“A very small percentage of Americans serve our Nation. Along with saying thanks, it's my view that the rest of us can and should make an effort to close the gaps in what our Government can and should provide for heroes. I'm proud to work with the Gary Sinise Foundation which is uniquely positioned to do that."
D.B.’s films include Gardens of Stone, Memphis Belle, Fire in the Sky, The Cutting Edge, No Man’s Land, Spawn and Roommates with Peter Falk. He memorably portrayed Shoeless Joe Jackson in Eight Men Out and also wrote, produced and directed the indie hit Two Tickets to Paradise. On television he was Dish Boggett in the landmark Lonesome Dove miniseries, the evil Goetz in Jericho and most recently the clueless Larry on Two and a Half Men. Other credits include Major Crimes, Touch, The Event, Crash, 24, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Strange Luck, Harsh Realm and the Emmy award winning Miss Rose White. Among his many theatrical appearances over the years was a run on Broadway in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial. Currently the voice of the Oprah Winfrey Network, the History Channel hit Mountain Men, NFL Network and dozens of other commercials and promos. In conjunction with the Department of Defense, D.B. started a website called Letters From Hollywood to collect and transmit messages of support and thanks to our troops. He’s very pleased to join with the Gary Sinise Foundation to advance the cause of our fearless service men and women and our noble veterans.
Jay R. Vargas
“The reason I am joining the Gary Sinise Foundation is that it does so much for all Veterans above and beyond any other organization in America. The manner in which the Foundation cares and gives so much to todays wounded Veterans is from the heart."
Jay R. Vargas was born in Arizona, the son of immigrants, an Italian mother and Hispanic father, who came to the United States in 1917.
Colonel Vargas final tour of duty as a Marine Officer found him on the staff of the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Pacific, where he served as Force Marine.
In the spring of 1968, while serving in the Republic of Vietnam Vargas' company engaged in fierce combat with the enemy at the village of Dai Do. During the battle, he was able to free one of his platoons under attack by personally destroying three enemy machine gun positions. Vargas then carried to safety his seriously wounded battalion commander and saved seven other Marines. His actions caused him to sustain wounds at three different times. It was for his actions that in a May 1970 ceremony at the White House, President Nixon presented then Major Vargas with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In addition Vargas's personal decorations include the Silver Star; the Purple Heart with four Gold Stars; the Combat Action Ribbon; the Meritorious Service Medal; and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Silver Star and Palm.
After retiring from the Marines in 1993, Vargas was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, a position he held until 1998. In July, 2001, the President of the United States appointed him Veterans’ Liaison for the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs, a position in which he served until January, 2009. His region included the 19 Western States, Guam and the Philippines.
"After ten years serving as a US Navy S.E.A.L., it was my honor to join the Gary Sinise Foundation. I often say I left one small elite unit in the military to join another small elite unit in the civilian world at GSF. I remain in awe of Gary's relentless drive to always do a little more for our defenders and their families. I am excited to represent the Gary Sinise Foundation as an ambassador and to "Charlie Mike" (continue mission) for this great cause. Semper Fortis."
It is William Wagasy's mission to reach out to those who wore the uniform and in collaboration with non-profits, for-profits, military institutions, communities, and other charitable and service oriented organizations developing programs to help empower our veterans and their families as they transition into the civilian world and strive to reach their full potential.
A former Outside Linebacker and Special Teams player for the University of Notre Dame under Coach Lou Holtz from 1992-1996, he graduated with an accounting degree and a second major in philosophy in 1996. He went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University in 2000 and his Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine in 2001. Following the attacks of September 11th, he enlisted in the navy and became a U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. in 2003. He completed four combat tours, three to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"In a world that has become increasingly more perilous and unpredictable, honoring and supporting those who sacrifice to protect our cherished freedoms, has never been more important. As a disabled veteran, I am honored to stand with the Gary Sinise Foundation to help fulfill its obligation… to serve our active-duty military, veterans who bear the scars of war, first responders and their families… as they have served our nation."
Major Gary Weaver, USMC (Ret), is a public relations professional, writer and event planner who advocates on behalf of veterans and wounded warriors. He joined the Marine Corps in 1965, was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967, and later served in the Republic of Vietnam (1969-1970) with the Provisional Marine Aircraft Group 39 in Quang Tri Province as an air traffic control officer.
Following his retirement from the Marine Corps in 1986, Gary worked as an investment broker until a fateful encounter with a disabled veteran lead to a career of service with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). He was eventually appointed the DAV's National Communications Director and served in that role for fourteen years until his retirement in 2011.
As DAV's Communications Director, he spearheaded the development of numerous advertising, marketing and outreach initiatives including the DAV Flight Team Air Show, partnerships with the NFL and MLB, publication of DAV Magazine, sponsorship of the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, as well as countless military appreciation campaigns with major corporations such as Golden Corral and Harley Davidson. He has also collaborated on numerous PBS documentary films, including the Emmy Award-winning Korean War Stories (2001), World War II Memorial: A Testament to Freedom (2004), The March of the Bonus Army (2006), and Hallowed Grounds (2009).
“Gary Sinise is the anchor for the most unique foundation I have ever been a part of. All of the things that we acquire and share with our Warriors are much needed things to assist them in the transition back to civilian life.But the key elements that make the gifts so special from the Gary Sinise Foundation is the respect, appreciation and love for our Warriors that goes into every gift given. Everyone I have met on our team has these valued traits and it is instilled by our great leader Mr. Gary Sinise. It is an honor to be a part of his team."
Captain John Woodall (Woody) is a retired fire Captain from Raleigh N.C. He was the Chief of Operations with the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation from February 2000 until February 2011 and was the official liaison from North Carolina to New York after September 11, 2001. During this time, he researched how to help the firefighters killed on 9-11 and found the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation. Through his research, four, fifteen passenger vans were donated to the Foundation and a financial donation was presented to the Thomas Elasser Fund.
To date Captain Woodall has made 200 visits to NYC since 9-11. Seven years ago Captain Woodall and several of his FDNY friends started bringing care packages to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They also have picnics at the Fisher Houses & Malogue House. Captain Woodall founded Fire Fighters Assisting Armed Forces Families (FFAAFF, Inc.).
Captain Woodall is also an Elvis tribute artist and has sung for the families of 9-11 at Shea Stadium in NYC on family day. He has been singing for several years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center & Bethesda Naval Hospital for the wounded veterans and their families on special occasions.
Captain Woodall is an artist and has painted across the country. He was reintroduced to art after an explosion which left him in respiratory therapy for over a year. He was diagnosed with PTSD in June of 2007 and believes art helped save his life.