By Shandi Dix, Fort Riley Public AffairsApril 25, 2011
FORT RILEY, Kan., April 25, 2011 -- More than 3,000 people attended the third annual Month of the Military Child festival and concert April 10, 2011, at Marshall Army Airfield, here.
Returning for the third tour to Fort Riley was Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
Sinise is well-known for his Hollywood roles as Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump" and Detective Mac Taylor on CBS's CSI: New York.
"I'm glad to be back here at Fort Riley," Sinise said. "We're just here to support the troops, raise the morale, talk about some stress issues and try to give everybody a good time."
Traveling with the band to Fort Riley was Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient retired Maj. Drew Dix.
"I'm very proud to be a part of this," Dix said. "I've done it several times in the past, and I look forward to it in the future because there's no greater message or messenger than Gary and the men and women that he's performing with."
For the past eight years, Sinise and the band have traveled around the world with the USO performing for troops down range and stateside.
"It's important to do what we can to be consistent with our support of the troops," Sinise said. "I like to return to the bases as often as I can to make sure that the morale and the messaging about staying strong, and that there are people out there that appreciate what our troops are doing and are grateful for what they're doing."
Sinise has various reasons why he supports the military through USO tours.
"I have veterans in my family, so that's an important aspect of it," Sinise explained. "I know what they did. I know what it was like when they came home from war, and it was very, very hard on them, and we don't want that to happen again, so we have to keep our troops strong, have to keep their families strong."
"It's a dangerous world out there, and these are our defenders, and they deserve our support," he said.
Sinise and Dix shared the same sentiment on how military children can overcome stress.
"Talk about it because you're all in it together, and the role of the family members is so very important," Dix said. "You know when we send a serviceman or woman overseas to do our work for us, we get the whole package - we get the family."
"The families behind those servicemembers makes the difference, and you can also because you're back in the communities," he said. "You can go out in your communities and let people know what it's like to be a part of the military family."
Sinise's reason for touring is simple - "to continually show our gratitude and our support for our servicemembers and what they do for us."
He said the reason the band does so many domestic shows is because there are so many families with deployed servicemembers at military bases, and they want to get out there to show support of what the families are going through and to give them a good time.
"That's very, very important in keeping our military strong and our nation strong," Sinise said. "And these kids, you know what it's like, you go through these long deployments. You're worried. You're concerned. You're enduring these times away from your parent, and it can be hard on you."
The band plays a variety of songs, from classic rock to current contemporary songs by artists like Rascal Flatts, Zac Brown Band, Sugarland, Christina Aguilera and Evanescence.
The message Dix said he hoped to convey with his visit to Fort Riley was that "we care."
"Gary doesn't have to say 'we care' because he shows it, and those who really mean it don't have to say, 'I care,'" Dix said. "We all care, and we're very proud to be a part of honoring all the men and women that are serving and their families for what they're sacrificing."