Amidst a cast of big name celebrities chosen for season 13 of Dancing with the Stars, J.R. Martinez may be unfamiliar to those outside of the soap community. Now an actor, the war hero survived a brutal attack on the battlefield in Iraq and is glad to have the opportunity to tell his extraordinary story and hopefully inspire others to reach their full potential despite their hardships.
Paired with professional Karina Smirnoff, the 28-year-old is taking to the dance floor with gusto. J.R.'s partner attributes the passion he takes to mastering his new skill as a capacity gained from his years in the army. "He doesn't want to take breaks," Karina says laughing. "With his military background he keeps wanting to go over and over and over again. I'm the one who kind of sits down and I'm like, 'Hold on!'"
Also attained from J.R.'s years in battle are prominent scars all over his face and body sustained when he hit a landmine with his Humvee in Iraq. Following numerous surgeries, Martinez was able to move on from the devastating accident, making his professional acting debut on All My Children in 2008. J.R. says he feels "blessed" for the opportunities he's been given because they allow him to "realize why I was kept in this world."
"Everyone looks at me and says 'thank you for your service,' and I'm so grateful for that because I feel like I'm just one of the great examples of men and women who return home from Iraq and Afghanistan that find productive and positive ways to move on with their life and there are a lot of guys who aren't able to that. It's this platform and this opportunity that's going to give me that chance to be an example for those men and women out there."
An all-new season 13 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday, September 19 on ABC.