After high school, J.R. joined the army. In September of 2002, 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. On April 5, he was driving a humvee in Karbala when his front left tire hit a roadside bomb. The three other soldiers were ejected from the burning vehicle, but J.R. was trapped inside. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to 34 percent of his body. He spent 34 months in recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC/SAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. He has undergone 34 different surgeries since his injury. Since then, he’s traveled the world as a motivational speaker. J.R. has had the privilege of speaking with troops at various bases around the world, as well as serving as the keynote speaker for Delta, Wells Fargo, Verizon, State Farm, General Motors, Red Cross and numerous other Fortune 500 companies, Nonprofits and Universities. His story may be unique, but his message is universal; change isn't bad if you are willing to adapt. Your path in life is decided by your own ability to Adapt & Overcome℠.
Many may remember J.R. as “Brot Monroe,” a combat veteran who was injured in Iraq and returned home to face the new challenges of reintegrating to civilian life, on the Emmy Award winning ABC Daytime drama All My Children.
After All My Children ran its final season in 2011, J.R. went on to surprise and inspire a nation as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Along with partner Karina Smirnoff, J.R. won the coveted mirror ball trophy, and they were named season 13 champions.
Later J.R. co-starred on the syndicated action series, SAF3 (CW Network). He also guest starred in the season 6 finale of Lifetime’s Army Wives.
J.R has been featured on many shows, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, Ellen, The View, The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, CBS Nightly News, CNN, Fox News, HLN, and Univision. He narrated the CNN documentary series In America: Vets Wanted' He’s served as a guest host on The View and ultimately hosted his own radio show, The J.R. Martinez Show, on KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles.
He has also been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, US Veterans Magazine, and was featured on the cover of People Magazine, and in their annual Sexiest Man Alive issue, and was also named one of their Most Intriguing People of 2011.
J.R. is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit, a memoir about how he was able to take his own personal tragedy and turn it into an inspiration for others.
As a firm believer in giving back, his dedication to the nonprofit world is something about which he is very passionate. J.R. serves as an ambassador for Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, Glasswing International, No Barriers and Debra of America.
J.R. currently resides in Austin, TX with his wife, daughter and their black labrador retriever, Romeo.
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