J.R. Martinez, is not only a star on the dance floor, but among his fellow veteran community. On Saturday, he was presented with the Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year Award by Disabled American Veterans (DAV), for his remarkable accomplishments in service to veterans.
The distinction was awarded during the Disabled American Veterans’ 91st convention this weekend. About four thousand attendees gathered in Las Vegas to address the needs of injured and ill veterans of all generations.
“When you are injured, you miss that ability and opportunity to help and be a part of something bigger than yourself,” says Martinez who suffered severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body when his Humvee hit a landmine during his deployment in Iraq. “This doesn’t mean my duty is going to be over, it just means I can serve at a different capacity. For me, it’s really an honor.”
Martinez has helped lift the spirits of other ill and injured veterans by traveling the nation sharing his story and listening to others.
“I think what we need to do is show our guys what they can do when they come home,” says Martinez about the most pressing issue concerning veterans today. “If we are able to give them the position to be part of something again, over the time, they’ll be able to cope.”
He says when a soldier takes his uniform off, they are still human, and he will continue to tour the country to educate others about veterans issues until the day he dies.
“We need to do a lot more,” says Martinez. “It’s important for me to continue to build that platform. I have a voice and am not afraid to use it.”