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article imageIraq war veteran Martinez becomes 'Dancing with the Stars' champ

By Nancy Houser     Nov 23, 2011 in Entertainment
J.R. Martinez was serving in Iraq when the front left tire of his Humvee hit a landmine. After 33 surgeries from burns over 40 percent of his body and 34 months at the BAMC, he has just won the championship for the 13th season of "Dancing with the Stars."
The 28-year-old war veteran sparks a sense of sheer joy and positivity that is infectious, according to Sandy Cohen, AP Entertainment Writer. "J.R. Martinez started out as the least-known member of the 'Dancing With the Stars' cast, but as the season went on, America fell in love with the 28-year-old soldier-turned-soap-opera star," winning the show with his neighbor and dance partner, Karina Smirnoff.
When Martinez was in recovery at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas, one of the nurses had asked him to speak to another burn patient. The patient had seen his body for the first time and had become drastically withdrawn, but after Martinez spent 45 minutes with him, the patient opened his curtain to allow light into his room. From then on, Martinez was able to successfully help others in the hospital through motivational speaking, based on the experiences of his own pain and depression.
J.R. Martinez was recently chosen as grand marshal of the 123rd annual Tournament of Roses parade and was on the cover of People magazine, named one of its "sexiest men" a few weeks later. An actor on "All My Children" as an injured veteran in combat, Martinez is planning on writing an in-depth book about his life.
But the best part of his life is Diana Jones, an executive assistant on staff of "All My Children," who has become not only his best friend but the woman he has always been looking for.
“I have to say, knowing her for two years and knowing the person that she is, I knew she looked at me in a different way but she looked at me on a deeper level, not just my scars,” Martinez said. “She’s definitely my number one fan, outside of my mother … she always kind of reminds me, that ‘you have the ability.’ She always kind of tells me that ‘you’re one of the few people I know that when you put your mind to something, I really believe that you can do it.’” (ABC)
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