Grace Under Fire (continued)
By Rob Lewis
During his recovery at BAMC, Martinez was asked by a nurse to speak with a fellow burn patient whose outlook wasn’t as focused and positive. Martinez soon discovered that he had a mission again—through public speaking he could motivate others to see through the fog of their circumstances and achieve greatness.
“I try to drive home motivation, realization and determination to my audiences,” Martinez said.
In 2008, he was cast in ABC’s “All My Children” in the role of combat-injured Iraq veteran Brot Monroe.
After his run ended on the show, Martinez was able to
parlay the appearance into the role he seemed destined to star in—playing himself on the dancing-themed reality show “Dancing with the Stars,” which requires hard work, grace under pressure, good looks and confidence.
Martinez and dancing partner Karina Smirnoff won the competition in rousing fashion, along the way bringing attention to those who suffer the wounds of war.
“It was thrilling to tune into ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and see JR, a disabled veteran, one of our very own, showing the world that there is nothing we cannot accomplish,” said National Commander Donald Samuels. “It must be a tremendous amount of pressure on a young man, but he has taken the duty of role model very seriously and is doing all veterans proud.”
Indeed, Martinez acknowledges the difficulties of being the face of a generation of disabled veterans for a large segment of America, but he accepts it.
“I’ve grown to become very comfortable in the role; I accept the challenge,” Martinez said. “In my mind, I don’t just represent myself. I represent all veterans. And I know that they are out there building their own lives and writing their own stories to represent me.”
Hart believes the recognition for Martinez as DAV’s Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year is a continuation of the story of a great soldier.
“This inspiring young man sets an example for all of us,” said Wilson. “His determination to carry on despite adversity and to deliver a message of hope to others is in keeping with the highest traditions of DAV.”
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