SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Actor, author, speaker, “Dancing with the Stars” winner and wounded U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez will speak at the University of Illinois-Springfield on Veterans Day.
The speech will be about overcoming adversity and facing life’s challenges head-on.
While serving as an infantryman in Iraq in 2003, Martinez’s Hummer drove over a roadside bomb that caused severe burns to more than 34% of his body.
He spent the next 34 months of recovery at the Brooke Army Medical Center and underwent countless plastic surgeries and skin grafts.
His message as a motivational speaker is centered on making the most of every situation and using resilience and optimism to overcome life’s challenges.
In 2008, Martinez was cast in the popular ABC soap opera “All My Children” as Brot Monroe, an Army veteran who was injured in combat.
In 2011, he was cast on ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars” where he won the season 13 competition.
In 2012, he published his New York Times bestselling memoir “Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit.” A year later, he was cast in a new syndicated action-drama series called “SAF3” in a recurring role he portrayed till 2014.
At the event, the new UIS Veterans Emergency Grant will be announced. The grant will help student veterans cover the cost, up to $500, of bills, food, medical expenses and travel in emergency situations. A crowdfunding effort will be launched to help support the fund.
The Chatham VFW Post 4763 will provide a color guard for the event.
UIS will also hold a Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony on November 11.
UIS Veteran’s Day
November 11, 6 p.m.
UIS Student Union Ballroom
2251 Richard Wright Drive