“Terminator 2” star Robert Patrick, 54, is all over the big screen lately—appearing in buzzed-about films like “Gangster Squad,” “Identify Thief” and the Sundance-featured “Lovelace.” But his Hollywood commitments won’t keep him from another activity just as close to his heart: spending time with U.S. troops stationed overseas.
“We shake hands, sign autographs and talk. We hang out and show our support and how much we care about what they’re doing,” Patrick, who is leaving for his seventh USO tour this week told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I’ve been to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Egypt, and we almost got into Pakistan. On Memorial Day, I ride my Harley to Rolling Center where they have a big demonstration for all of the Missing in Action and the Prisoners of War from Vietnam.”
This time, the “True Blood” star will visit the troops alongside fellow actor Matthew Lillard and baseball great Randy Johnson,
Patrick’s tenure in visiting servicemen and women started back in 2005, after the USO approached him. At the time, he working on a television show about America’s elite Delta Force entitled “The Unit.”
Since then, Patrick has played an array of military-centered roles, including a Commander Master in the Navy on ABC’s “Last Resort” and Colonel Johnson in “Flags of Our Fathers.”
“Playing any part you research to get into character, but then having the information and knowledge of spending time with the military makes you more appreciative of the men and women in the Armed Forces, so it makes me want to do the best job that I can do,” he said. “I’ve had an uncle who was in Vietnam and my grandfather was a career soldier so I have military in my family. [These tours] make me really respect what they do, and I also want to give them an honest portrayal.”
And while the opportunity to kick back with the man who has been in everything from “Walk the Line” to “Judgment Day” to “The Sopranos” no doubt gives our Armed Forces a boost, Patrick insisted that the USO tours have an even more profound impact on him.
“I walk away from these experiences more profoundly affected by them than the troops I visit. It makes it very real, that there are men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice everyday; willing to put their life on the line for us to have our freedom and that is deeply moving and I always walk away with that,” he added. “There are very brave men and women and the least I can do is spent some time with them, have lunch, it’s a small thing.”
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay