6th Annual Lieutenant Dan Weekend returns to honor, support veterans

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The 6th Annual Lieutenant Dan Weekend is back for another year to support veterans and caregivers.

Actor Gary Sinise, who played the character of Lt. Dan in the movie Forest Gump, teams up with the Independence Fund to bring in thousands of veterans for a good time. One veteran says his life has changed for the better because of events like this.

"It brings back the camaraderie I felt when I was in the Army of all the different service members, talking and sharing stories," says veteran Michael Verardo.

Verardo served in the Army from 2007 to 2013 until he was wounded in Afghanistan.

"I was the eighth guy to go over a wall and I stepped on an IUD that was hooked up to some homemade explosives, took my left leg and most of my left arm," says Verardo.

This weekend he's taking part in the Lt. Dan Weekend hosted by the Indy Fund.

It includes a concert, a VIP dinner, a bike ride for veterans and more. Organizers say more than 6,000 people are expected to attend Friday night's concert featuring KOA, Jonny Lang and Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band.

"We came together with such a like minded goal of really restoring hope and healing to our nations wounded," says Director of Indy Fundraising and Community Outreach, Sarah Verardo. and also Michael's wife.

"We are best known for our altering wheel chairs ,our track chairs and mobility devices," says Sarah.

The organization provides them to wounded veterans for free.

"It helps me do the things that I wouldn't be able to do post post injury like hunting, fishing, going shooting, playing with my dogs, playing with my daughter in the back yard," says Michael. "All of things I really enjoyed doing before I got hurt."

The organization is not only about heeling the combat wounded hero, but caregivers and entire families too.

"He had a very long hard road from war, and the Independence Fund has been with him every single step of the way and with our family," says Sarah.

For more information on Lt. Dan Band Weekend visit http://ldw6.org/.

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