The Gary Sinise Foundation is starting a whole new initiative with The Home Depot co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. The new initiative will offer care to veterans and first responders who suffer “from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and substance abuse.”
As reported by The Atlanta Jewish Times, both of Sinise’s new partners are donating $20 million from their personal foundations in order to provide support to the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network. The program will add onto the work that has been completed by the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and the Boulder Crest Foundation’s Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) program.
In a video announcing the network, Sinise discussed the “epidemic of invisible wounds” that veterans and first responders experience. He added that these “invisible wounds” have “visible manifestations like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse which affect not only the veterans and first responders themselves, but their families, as well…these invisible wounds too often can lead to suicide.”
The new initiative is part of the “relief and resiliency program.” Sinise explains that the program will leverage “the science of post-traumatic growth, a framework that explains the positive transformation that can occur following trauma.”
The program will create twenty sites across the country to “serve veterans, first responders and their families,” The Atlanta Jewish Times notes. The name of the foundation reportedly incorporates the name Avalon as a reference to the island where King Arthur was taken in order to recover after his final battle.
In the announcement video, Sinise adds, “This was always my intention, my mission from the beginning — to always do a little more to be there for our nation’s defenders in their time of need.”
The Veterans Administration says that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in a larger percentage of traumatic brain injuries than previous conflicts. The Atlanta Jewish Times reports that the U.S. Defense Department has estimated that 22% of all combat wounds from those specific conflicts are brain injuries, which is 10% more than the Vietnam War.
The new initiative will mark the first time that Blank and Marcus have partnered together since co-founding The Home Depot. “Arthur and I, together at Home Depot, we recognized how important the military was to us,” said Marcus.
Marcus served in the Air National Guard for four years during the period of the Korean War in the early 1950s. “I appreciate the military,” he said. “These young people have put their lives on the line and, frankly, when they leave the service, they’re not getting the support they need.”
This is not the first time Sinise’s foundation has partnered with the Marcus and Home Depot foundations. They previously joined forces to build smart homes for wounded vets.
One of the twenty centers included in the network will be the Marcus Institute for Brain Health in Colorado, which cares for veterans and retired athletes that have “mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries (including concussion) and changes in psychological health.” The SHARE Military Initiative in Atlanta will also be among the centers working with the program.
In February 2019, Gary Sinise joined Ben Shapiro for an episode of The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday Special to “discuss his road to Hollywood success, how he’s stayed grounded through it all, and his passion for supporting our troops, veterans, and their families.”