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Jose Rene Martinez (J.R.) will be dancing with Karina Smirnoff on season 13 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” He is an actor, spokesman and retired soldier. He played ‘Brot Monroe’ on the Emmy Award winning daytime drama “All My Children.” In true Hollywood fashion, J.R. was encouraged by a friend to go on the open casting call that AMC put out for a veteran to join the cast. After several meetings with producers he was cast and an actor was born. Due to his popularity, what started as a three month story arc developed into a three year stint. His role as an injured Iraq combat veteran mirrors his own life.
After high school he joined the army. J.R. was proud to serve, as a way to give something back to a country that had already given so much to him and his family. In September of 2002, J.R. underwent Basic and Advanced Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he gained skills as an 11-B Infantryman. After reporting to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in January of 2003, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
In March of 2003, J.R. was deployed to Iraq, and on April 5, less than a month into his deployment, he was serving as a driver of a Humvee in Karbala, when his left front tire hit a land-mine. Three other soldiers with J.R. were ejected from the burning vehicle, but he was trapped inside and suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. J.R. claims that while he was fighting for his life and awaiting medical help in Iraq, his sister Anabel, appeared to him, giving him the strength to stay alive.
After he was pulled out of the Humvee, J.R. was evacuated to a local medic station in Iraq and then Landstuhl, Germany, for immediate care. He was eventually sent to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. He spent 34 months in recovery at BAMC and underwent 33 different surgeries including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
During his time in recovery, a nurse asked him to speak to a burn patient, who had just seen his body for the first time and had become withdrawn. After an approximate 45-minute visit, the patient opened the curtain letting light in his room and his heart. J.R. then understood the impact he had on this patient and decided to use his experience to help others, visiting with several of the patients in the hospital, sharing his story and listening to theirs.
J.R. has become a highly sought-after motivational speaker, travelling the country to spread his message of resilience and optimism. He devotes himself to showing others the true value in making the most of every situation. He is called on by a wide-range of groups, including large corporations, veterans groups, non-profits and schools, and has shared the stage with the likes of global self-help guru Tony Robbins and Evangelist Dave Roever. J.R. has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times and PEOPLE Magazine. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, The View, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, Univision, along with other major national news outlets.
While J.R.'s experience was certainly life-changing, amazingly he claims this is actually a change for the better. “I discovered it is what is inside a person that matters most and I wouldn’t change anything…absolutely anything!" states J.R. "I do believe everything happens for a reason, and I'm extremely grateful for that day because it led me into this life!"
Speaking TopicsJ.R. Martinez has a variety of speech topics and themes and customizes each of his speaking engagements to the audience he is addressing.
· Accelerate Your Success into 3-D: Desire, Dedication, and Discipline
· Don’t Be Afraid to Be You: Acceptance of Body & Mind
· Respect Yourself & Others: We Can All Learn & Grow from One Another
· Plug in to your Potential: Spark Endless Possibilities through Goal-Setting
· Have you asked the “Why Me?” Question before? Your Answer Comes by Facing
· Adversity Head-on with Optimism & Resilience
· Pay It Forward: The Return is Priceless
· ADAPT: Acceptance, Determination, Action, Positivity, Trust
· POWER: Positivity, Optimism, Will, Effort, Resilience
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