For more than three decades, Gary Sinise has been a strong supporter of the men and women who serve in the American military. His advocacy started in the '80s when he began supporting Vietnam veterans, and his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the iconic movie Forrest Gump solidified his relationship with the military community. Ahead of National Purple Hearts Day, the 68-year-old, in his debut monthly column on AARP, reflected on the beginnings of his mission to aid those who have served in the armed forces and how it has impacted many lives and families. Gary Sinise says his role as Lt. Dan resonated with veterans Instagram The actor revealed that his iconic performance in Forrest Gump resonated with the warriors who had defended the nation. "I got so many letters from Vietnam veterans," Sinise wrote. "And people reaching out to me who were moved by the story of Lt. Dan. Many from service members who had been wounded in combat." Sinise further stated that his love for the veterans was strengthened during an event held in Chicago, where he witnessed firsthand the impact of his movie character on people. RELATED: Forrest Gump Cast Then And Now "The Disabled American Veterans organization contacted me about six weeks after that movie opened, inviting me to come to the group’s national convention in Chicago. When I walked out on stage, there were more than 2,000 wounded veterans in the audience, going back all the way to World War II. They were applauding me for playing Lt. Dan, and I was presented with an award for my 'hard work' on the film," he detailed. "Hard work? Compared with what the people in that ballroom had endured, my job wasn’t close to that. All I’d done was say my lines. Hard work was being far from home, up to your elbows in dust, and facing the enemy. Hard work was losing a limb, or worse, and having to carry on." Instagram The Gary Sinise Foundation has been of great help to veterans The actor established the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to support and show gratitude toward veterans and their families. The non-governmental organization is invested in rehabilitating wounded soldiers and reintegrating them into society. Instagram "Today, the Gary Sinise Foundation continues to build homes for our most severely wounded heroes through our R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program. You see, home is where most of us take comfort from the world, but for our severely wounded heroes, life there can be a constant battle. Simple everyday tasks are challenging and frustrating. Our smart homes provide accessibility and a safe haven to help empower these warriors to reclaim their independence," he wrote. "We also provide home modifications, mobility devices, and adapted vehicles — all in the effort to help our wounded heroes live free from obstacles and barriers."