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Sinise and Lt. Dan Band raise money for local veteran

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Albany/HV: Sinise and Lt. Dan Band raise money for local veteran
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Actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band make a stop in Albany for a benefit concert honoring a veteran from Sand Lake. Our C.J. Spang was there and has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Hundreds of people filled the Armory, supporting one of the area's own: Tech. Sgt. Joe Wilkinson.

"You don't ever expect anything for our military service, but to come home and something happens, the community is there to pick us up," said Wilkinson, an Air Force veteran. "It's unbelievable. I couldn't put into words what it means to me and my family."

People came in honor of Wilkinson and to see Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band perform at the benefit concert. Sinise partnered with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to build Wilkinson a new smart home. Wilkinson, who served in Iraq, has a degenerative nerve condition and is confined to a wheelchair. He says he's looking forward to his independence.

"Just to play baseball with my son, without having somebody push me in my yard," he said. "I'm a big sports enthusiast. And since this happened I haven't really been out there. But if we can get a yard that I can push myself around in, it's going to baseball."

"Our aim in all of this, is to help these folks lead independent lives," said Catherine Christman of the Stephen Siller Foundation. "They come back here and they have to rely on folks for everything. We want them to be independent and that's what this is all about."

People at the concert say the event is a reflection of the Capital Region's support for our troops.

"For the Lt. Dan Band here this evening, especially to Gary Sinise and the Siller Foundation, we owe a great debt of gratitude because they didn't have to do this, but yet they want to be a part of making a positive difference," said Congressman Chris Gibson. "And today, we clearly will make a positive difference."

Wilkinson's smart home will be one of 11 the Stephen Siller Foundation builds this year.

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