Veterans

April 30, 2014

Gary Sinise delivers check for OATH

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Linda KC Reynolds
staff writer

Actor/musician Gary Sinise donates $60,000 to Lancaster High School OATH (Operation All The Way Home), a nonprofit student-led organization that raised more than $182,000 in less than one year to build wounded warrior Army Spec. Jerral Hancock a new home. History teacher Jamie Goodreau invited Hancock to speak to her students. After hearing he was blown up on his 21st birthday in Iraq, leaving him without a left arm, paralyzed from the chest down, burnt over 30 percent of his body and a single dad raising two children in a small trailer, they raised the money.

Actor Gary Sinise was greeted with a high-spirited and well deserved standing ovation as he entered Lancaster High Schools theater.

Sinise surprised the OATH students by presenting them with a $60,000 check to help them in their efforts in building Army Spec. Jerral Hancock and his family a new home. Hancock was severely injured while driving a tank in Baghdad on his 21st birthday.

We all know what happens when an actor tries to become a singer or vice versa, joked Sinise. Famous for his role as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump, as well as roles in Apollo 13 and CSI New York, when it comes to getting the word out on wounded warriors, Sinise is no actor. What you see is what you get – he is the real deal.

Sinise congratulated the students for taking Hancock under their wing and raising more than $182,000 to help build the wounded warrior a new home. Not a great high school student himself, Sinise shared a story of how, as a teenager, he started a theater group in Chicago, reminding them that kids can do great things once they set their minds.

Via Skype and phone calls, Sinise personally corresponded with the studentñdriven ëOperation All the Way Home project, history teacher Jamie Goodreau, and the Hancock family. Once again he sincerely commended their efforts and dedication.

We got a lot of residual effects from a dozen years of war. When the country gets tired of the war, we tend to forget about our warriors. We dont want to do that, said Sinise. We did that after Vietnam. We turned our backs on our warriors and that was a bad thing for our nation to do. It really weakened our country.

Wounded warrior Army Spec. Jerral Hancock poses with his stepfather Dirrick Benjamin, Gary Sinise, and mom, Stacie Benjamin, at Lancaster High School where the Gary Sinise Foundation presented OATH students with a check for $60,000 to build Hancock and his family a new home.

With todays battlefield medical technology, what killed a soldier 20 or 50 years ago is now survivable.

Dedicated in shining the spotlight on those who have served and sacrificed so much, he remembers what it was like to have family members returning from Vietnam. He has been to the war zones, visits soldiers in hospitals, entertains the troops overseas and has been involved with the wounded for more than 20 years.

The Gary Sinise Foundation has built three homes for quadruple amputees and they are in process of building two more.

We cant expect our government to do everything, it does what it can. The VA is a big bureaucracy with a lot of issues, they take care of a lot of good folks but there are people who are going to fall through the cracks no matter what, because the needs are so great. Sinise stressed that it is imperative for communities and citizens to recognize the people that serve within their communities and try to help them, especially after such a brutal war – reminding all that we are free only because of the sacrifices made by our soldiers.

I am just so honored that Gary is helping out. He is an incredible, awesome person, said Hancock looking around the auditorium. I am just so proud of what all my kids here have done for me, for me and my family; it is really hard to put into words.

To help raise the remaining funds needed for Hancocks new home, Gary Sinise and The Lt. Dan Band will perform May 10 at JetHawk Stadium. Festivities for Pride of the Nation begin at 6 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit www.oathtickets.com.




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