POLITICS

Gary Sinise feted by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, veterans

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Alicia M. Cohn

Gary Sinise was the Brad Pitt of the Easter Seals Advocacy Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, where veterans -- including Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. -- waited in line to meet him, and the color guard swarmed the "CSI: NY" star for a picture.

"He's done so much for all the troops, for the amputee community," said double-amputee Duckworth, who went on to call Sinise "one of us."

"He's not an amputee, but it's the character that he portrayed and what he's done personally," she explained, referring to Sinise's role as Lt. Dan Taylor, a soldier who loses his legs, in "Forrest Gump."

Duckworth met Sinise face-to-face for the first time at the event and thanked him for calling after her 2004 injury in Iraq.

"I was unconscious for 11 days, and when I woke up, one of the first things people said to me was, 'Gary Sinise has already called to ask about you,' " she told Yeas & Nays. "For the guys in my unit, it meant a lot to them ... to know, 'Lt. Dan's checking in on her.' "

Sinise, who Easter Seals honored, along with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw and Citigroup's "Citi Salutes" program, is such a familiar sight in D.C., he might be better known here for his advocacy than his acting.

He told us he is fine with that: "I act in California, that's where my job is. When I come here, it's usually related to military or some sort of service charity or something I'm supporting."

Sinise regularly visits his daughter, who goes to college in the area, and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also hits town every May to play with the Lt. Dan Band at the National Memorial Day Concert. The band tours with the USO playing military bases.

"I bring my family, and we spend a lot of time doing a lot of great things here in D.C. I love coming," he told us of the upcoming holiday.

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