22 November 2009

Gary Sinise, Mensch

He was here again yesterday. Not sure how many times he's been here all together now. You just can't help being impressed with his low key visits and how much time he spends with the patients and staff.

I was sitting with a patient in the ICU when I noticed a bit of a hubbub and looked up to see him walk by looking into each room. They didn't bring him in to see "my" patient because of the patient's serious condition. From what I was able to observe, Gary appears to have visited one or two others in the ICU who were awake, and spent quite a bit of time with them. Then he went through the regular wards and met all of those guys.

After that it was on to the USO for a meet & greet. I have no idea how long he stayed there - it must have been a couple of hours. I ran over at one point with a staff member who wanted a picture with him. Even after an hour or two the line of patients and staff was almost out the door. Nonetheless, he spoke with each person for a couple of minutes as though he had all the time in the world, then signed personalized autographs and posed with each person for a photo if they wanted.

At one point I saw him quickly reach over to the table next to him and hurredly take a drink of water before turning back to greet the next person in line. I can't imagine how much energy it must have taken to personally interact with so many people over the course of so many hours without having a moment for himself - he barely had a second to grab a sip of water.

When I observed someone tell him he had only 20 more minutes before he had to leave, he stepped forward to look at the long line of people still waiting. I don't know how he responded, nor do I know how it turned out because I had to go, but it was clear he was concerned about turning people away.

I always knew he was a good guy but it's very moving to observe it first hand. He doesn't have to do this, nor does he make a big PR deal out of it. He simply comes to spend time with the people here. Thanks, Gary. We appreciate all you do.

Update (via SondraK): Gary and the Lt Dan Band traveled on to Afghanistan, where they put on a concert in Bagram and visited patients at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital. Gary also made a trip out to a remote outpost near the Pakistan border to meet with the troops there and distribute humanitarian aid to Afghan children.

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