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EXCLUSIVE: Gary Sinise Building Houses for Amputee U.S. Troops, Talks 2012 Election Hopes

Mantegna Sinise 640

Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. (NIAF)

“CSI: NY” star Gary Sinise was pleasantly surprised that the CBS series was just renewed for its eighth season. But something even more important to Sinise than his TV show is the work he does for the country’s armed servicemen and women.

“I’m always involved, trying to do what I can. I have a foundation that provides military support and helps the families, we have a lot of wounded soldiers and marines,” Sinise told FOX411’s Pop Tarts at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) West Coast Gala. “Next week I’m playing a concert with my band to raise money for a guy who got blown up and lost both his arms and both his legs."

Unfortunately, this isn't the only quadruple amputee Sinise is trying to help.

"We have more than one quadruple amputee who has been injured in that way, so we have three of them that we’re raising money for right now, and we’re building them houses," he said. "One house is just about done in Staten Island for the first guy that survived that injury, and now we’re raising money to build houses for the next two guys.”

Sinise brought double amputee Vietnam War survivor Lieutenant Dan to life in "Forrest Gump" in the early 90s, and he says he role still inspires.

“I go out and visit the troops and they always call me Lieutenant Dan,” he said. “I figure that is just part of being in a successful movie, so I just embrace it.”

Looking head to 2012, Sinise said that its too early to advocate support for any presidential candidate, but thinks the economy and employment rates have to be a candidate's top priority.

“We’ll have to see where we’re at in 2012, but the economy and jobs are big things, and that is going to have an impact on the current president in the election," Sinise said. "If the economy keeps going down, we’re going to have big problems.” 

“Something has to give. We can’t sustain the spending and the entitlement programs, we are going to have to find away to shift these numbers," he added.  It is kind of scary, you look and wonder where the 21st century going – how is the power going to shift in the world? What is going to be the catalyst for this shift?"

Political quandaries aside, Sinise was all smiles throughout the star-studded, black-tie NIAF gala where he was joined by the likes of Jon Favreau, Kara Dioguardi, Giuliana DePandi-Rancic, Dodgers great Tommy Lasorda and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who paid tribute to the late Joseph R. Cerrell, a legendary Los Angeles public affairs consultant, former NIAF vice chairman, and a familiar FOX News face.

“God bless Joe and his family. Somehow I thought I’d see him here tonight, his spirit was always just so big,” Pelosi said, before presenting his family with an award on Cerrell’s honor. “Joe was one of the strongest bridges between the U.S and Italy. Thank you NIAF for all that you do, and for honoring Joseph Cerrell.”

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