J.R. sits down with ‘The Doctors’
Actor, author, motivational speaker and U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez joins The Doctors to discuss his new memoir, Full of Heart, detailing his remarkable life story of survival, strength and spirit.
On April 5, 2003, J.R. was on active military duty, deployed in the Middle East. While driving a Humvee just south of Baghdad, the front left tire ran over a roadside bomb. Within seconds, both the vehicle and J.R. were engulfed in flames. Miraculously, he survived the incident but being trapped inside the burning vehicle caused respiratory damage, bone fractures and severe burns to more than 30 percent of his body.
J.R. was evacuated to a local medic station and eventually was transported to an Army medical center in Texas, where he spent 34 months in recovery. During that time, he underwent 32 different medical operations, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgeries.
In 2008, J.R. started a new chapter of his life, where he was cast in ABC’s Emmy-winning daytime drama, All My Children, as a wounded combat veteran. He went on to win Season 13 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and also appeared on the season six finale of Army Wives as a physical therapist, treating and inspiring injured war veterans. In addition to being in the television spotlight, J.R. serves as a spokesman and motivational speaker for fellow wounded veterans. He was the 2008 recipient of Assurant Employee Benefits’ “Shining Star of Perseverance,” and he also received honorary recognition in 2009 by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), who presented him with the Veterans Leadership Award.
“What I’ve learned after I was injured is that I can be of service in a different way,” J.R. says. “I turned in my uniform, I turned in my weapon, but I can serve in a completely different capacity. My new uniform are my scars. My new weapon are my words, my experiences.”
J.R. recounts his harrowing story of being trapped inside a burning Humvee after it was struck by a roadside bomb.
“I almost started to accept that I wasn’t going to make it, that I was going to die,” J.R. says.
Hear how J.R. was rescued and put in a medically-induced coma to save his life. Plus, learn how tissue expanders are used for patients who require skin grafts.
“I learned very quickly, when they put the word ‘disability’ above me, I learned how to kind of reach up and scratch off the ‘dis;’ essentially, I tell people, ‘I dis the ‘dis’ and what I have left is ability,’” J.R. says.
J.R. Martinez on Fatherhood
On May 2, 2012, J.R. and his girlfriend, Diana, welcomed a baby girl, Lauryn Anabelle Martinez, to the family. Moving from the dance floor to diaper duty, J.R. says that being a father is his most exciting adventure yet.
“With fatherhood, because they grow so fast, it forces you to really appreciate every single moment,” he says.