Badly injured in combat, J. R. Martinez says: "I was a mess, but now I'm a message"

J. R. Martinez after numerous surgeries
J. R. Martinez after numerous surgeries
J. R. Martinez before and after injuries
J. R. Martinez before and after injuries
J. R.'s mother by his side in the hospital
J. R.'s mother by his side in the hospital
J R  was a handsome football player in high school
J R was a handsome football player in high school

Vet views scars as a badge of courage

If you are a fan of the soap opera All My Children, then you are familiar with J.R. Martinez. He is the actor who plays Brot Monroe, who purportedly served in Iraq in the U. S. Army and was injured in combat. As you know, if you watch the show, he fell in love with Lt. Taylor Thompson, but, following the accident, he chose to let her believe that he had not survived the incident. Eventually, the couple was reunited but the relationship didn’t work out and they went their separate ways on the show.

J. R.’s, aka Jose Rene, own story is actually quite similar to the story of the character he plays. He was serving in the U. S. Army in Iraq in 2003 when the left front tire of the Humvee he was driving ran over a land mine. The three fellow soldiers who were in the vehicle with him were thrown out but J. R. remained trapped inside. He received burns over 40 percent of his body. Though the other three soldiers escaped without physical injury, it did affect them mentally.

J. R. had enlisted in the army in September 2002 after high school, much to the chagrin of his mother. He had hoped to go to college and play football, but his poor grades and lack of college prep coursework made that scenario unlikely. When he was deployed to Iraq in February 2003, he promised his mother, an El Salvadoran native, that he would return in one piece. Of course, “one piece” could turn out to mean a lot of different things, including one piece in a casket. He did return in one piece alive, however, but badly injured. His mother remained at his side during the almost three years of hospitalization he received at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He eventually came to believe that the injury was a blessing in disguise! In addition, he views his scars as kind of a badge of courage.

It took a while, though, for him to get back on top. When he was in the hospital, he couldn’t move or do anything for himself. He was totally dependent on his mother and the hospital staff. His mother would sit there every night watching a Spanish soap opera on the TV. One day he kiddingly said, “One day I’m going to be on a soap opera, mom.” His lowest point came the day he first looked at himself in the mirror. The skins on his face, arms, hands and chest had melted away in the explosion and had to be replaced with a series of skins grafts. One of his ears was missing. He was devastated with his new face and lost his will to live, but his mother helped him to begin to view his new life positively.

Now J. R. has the most amazing attitude for someone who has experienced such prodigious challenges. Before the accident, he was nicknamed “pretty boy” because of his baby-faced handsomeness. Now, after 32 operations consisting of extensive facial surgery and skin grafting over a period of 34 months, his face is quite altered in appearance and badly scarred. However, despite his marred appearance, because of his dynamic personality and attitude he is actually quite attractive!

J. R. primary commitment nowadays is to helping fellow servicemen. He is the national spokesperson for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans who have been seriously wounded or disabled in Afghanistan or Iraq. He has also traveled the country as a motivational speaker.

He was chosen to join the cast of All My Children after being one of 600 people to try out for the part. His character’s injuries were designed to conform to his own. He sees his soap opera role as an extension of his motivational messages. “We’re educating America about the things the troops go through every day,” he explained. Martinez also provides input for the show’s writers to ensure the store line is authentic.

When questioned about the challenges he has faced he says you don’t know what you are capable of enduring until you are faced with it. He says only in America can you go from nearly losing your life to becoming a soap opera star. “I was a mess,” he says, “But now I’m a message.”

J R Martinez Talks about His Accident

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Comments 70 comments

Angela Hyes 5 years ago

The more I hear about his story the more I wanna get to know about him, He truly is an inspiration!


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BooksGalore 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

I know Angela. His story REALLY touched me, that's why I had to write a hub about him. Most people (me included) would have a REALLY hard time being so positive about it if it happened to them.


janedo 5 years ago

He's still hot and always will be-- he can't help it, he just has good genes which is basically what attractiveness is all about.


Annie 5 years ago

He is such an inspiration to all people. He shows us that no matter what, get up and keep going. I admire him so much. He is definitely a Hero.


Sande 5 years ago

My daughter Sydney died in a firey car accident end of 2007...this was hard to hear yet good at the same time. I am lifting you up JR and proud of all you have become...kick butt on DWTS!


Meeko 5 years ago

Being in the military myself. I k ow the dangers that is faced. Been to Afghanistan and could of faced the same challenges as JR. He is an inspiration to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think he is beautiful inside and out.


jjrenn 5 years ago

What an inspiration! I hope you kick butt on DWTS! Go JR!


Marie 5 years ago

LOVE you on AMC - you are handsome, JR, and you have beauty from within. Show 'em what you got on DWTS!


Melinda 5 years ago

Such an inspiration he is.I never actually voted , just enjoyed the dances. This time I will use all my votes for him!


maria espinoza 5 years ago

Hey jr I miss talking to you remember me from high school cuidate mucho tu amiga que te extrana mucho


MeSoPrecious 5 years ago

Sometimes God allows us to go through things so our testimony can be an inspiration to others. I speak from experience. Keep on blessing others with beautiful spirit. You are truly an inspiration!

Good luck on DWTS!


Cathy Hood 5 years ago

Just saw J.R. on DWTS's. What a BEAUTIFUL,CONFIDENT, HANDSOME man! May he go far!!!!!!!


patrick 5 years ago

I was in Kuwait in 2003 and I went to Iraq myself. I was there as support. My job was 92F.


Lois 5 years ago

Enjoyed watching you on Dancing with the Stars. What a beautiful Spirit. You are very talented, and handsome aman. May God Bless you and your lifes mission.


Maria Rivera 5 years ago

I think he is still pretty hot!! He did well last night on DWTS! He is one of many that we all should appreciate for serving this country.


Lynn 5 years ago

I watched DWTS and hope he wins the whole thing!! He is a hero in every sense of the word...


Chandra 5 years ago

J.R. I saw your heart long before I saw your handsome face...thank you for your beautiful spirit...smile


marame 5 years ago

Yes, he is such a great person. He is still good looking. His heart is huge and he is tender. Some girl will indeed win your heart. Here's a big hug.


dee campbell 5 years ago

i saw you last night on d.w.t.s. ,you are a brave and beautiful man. good luck and god bess you . lovingly, dee c.


Miss J 5 years ago

What an amazing story. I was feeling down and hearing what happen to you up. Lifted me. Good luck on DWTS. God bless you:)


lina 5 years ago

I think he's so handsome... Love his attitude.. Makes me feel like I should change mine... Kick ass on dwts... God bless you...


achavez 5 years ago

I think J.R's beautiful spirit shines through, and makes him the gorgeous man he is..He dances beautifully as well! Thank you for your service and bravery. Thank you for sharing your story and positivity..I feel the want to change my attitude now :) Good luck on DWTS, and God Bless!!


mabinty 5 years ago

he is such an inspiration....Thank God for your courage...Jr


mabinty 5 years ago

he is such an inspiration....Thank God for your courage...Jr..now am gonna cry, he is indeed a hero it takes a lot to get up and move on with such an amazing spirit...good luch in DWTS...you are already licking ass


mabinty 5 years ago

I can just tell he is an Amazing person in and out, first time to hear his story and am deeply touched, God Bless him and continues to give him courage... such an inspiration....Thank God for his courage..., he is indeed an HERO, it takes a lot to get up and move on with such tragedy but he has such an amazing spirit...good luck in DWTS...peace and love


Jayme 5 years ago

J.R., you are amazing! I wish my daughters were just a little older! I used to be a diehard AMC viewer, and then just ran out of time. I'm so sorry I missed the last 3 years with you on it. My husband is also a 2x OIF/OEF veteran, and I know what dangers he faced as a 92S and 88M. I know the fears your mom faced, and the anguish she felt when you were injured. She must be so proud of you and all you have accomplished. You have a purpose in life and you sure seem to be fulfilling it. You may not look same as you once did, but your scars give you character, and I think you are pretty darn attractive regardless. Good luck on DWTS! Can't wait to see you go all the way to the end!


Louisa 5 years ago

Hey JR... Remember me I'm Vanessa cousin... We have a picture of u helping Lauren(my oldest daughter) with homework... I watch All my Children everyday and rooting for u on DWTS... It's nice to see that u are looking as handsome as u always have been... My Grandma would've love to see u now... U were favorite! Well we r love and miss u from San Antonio especially my Aunt Emma, And Anna... Email me at nevear2003@ yahoo.com


moroccan lady 5 years ago

amazing person i wish you good luck in dancing with the stars,god bless you


Dawn Boulianne 5 years ago

I saw you on Dancing With the Stars and wanted to know your story. Thank you for sharing it with me. You have an amazing spirit and definitely have a message to give to everyone. God Bless!


CB 5 years ago

You are so young, yet so wise. I've watched you on All My Children, but have not heard your story until now. Wow. You have been through it all. Thank you for sharing your life with others and inspiring others to be positive and happy.


Anna B. 5 years ago

You r a wonderful soul

Much Love

and Happiness

Anna B.

God Sees Your Deeds

Smile Big


AB SMILE 5 years ago

B 4 I Seen u on

DWS

I told my husband you can see that

u were very good looking man

B 4 and u r still a beautiful soul

TEARS


Loucretia Mentzer 5 years ago

What an awesome, and beautiful man! Give God the glory!


maryraiman 5 years ago

I first saw Mr. Martinez on DWTS tonight, and I have to say he is a very attractive gentleman...and a spectacular dancer, as well. Since I knew nothing about his history, I Googled him and came across this page. At the risk of sounding trite, his story is inspiring. I work as a Family Readiness Group volunteer for a Florida National Guard unit. He could stand as a shining example of what it is to never give up and still have a fulfilling life after being wounded in combat. God Bless you, Mr. Martinez. May your life be even more enriched from here on out.


Kelly 5 years ago

Wow!Watched DWTS tonight and was blown away by JR's dance.He was robbed of points.What an inspiring story.I hope you go all the way JR!!!!


Susan 5 years ago

J.R. You got ripped off tonight. Your score should have been higher. You are so inspiring. God Bless you.


Arlene 5 years ago

I as well seen you tonight on DWTS and thought you were very good. I do not watch soaps . So I had no idea who you were. So I goggled your name. And all I can say is your story is very heartwarming . And as of tonight you are the WINNER!!!!'


Cindi Hall 5 years ago

J.R.-Thank you for your sacrifice that you made for our great country. You are a beautiful person, inside and out and you are a shining example of what people should be!


Morella 5 years ago

Mr. J.R. Martinez is the kind of person we all need to be inspired by and admire. You are a true HERO in every since of the word. I read your story and I'm very touched and pleased that a young man can make such a difference in people's lives after such a dramatic life experience. God Bless you!!! Bring home that mirror ball trophy.


Mike 5 years ago

Keep up the good work, J.R.; you're an inspiration to us all.


Stacy 5 years ago

I am so impressed with you on DWTS. You are not only my favorite dancer, YOU are an inspiration..My votes are on you!!

Keep up the good work.


gisele 5 years ago

God Bless You and Keep You, you are an inspiration to us all


Carolyn 5 years ago

my nephew didn't make it back....but if had I would be like you Mom....beside him all the way....you can tell you are loved and America is proud of you. God Bless you and your family.


Star 5 years ago

You are a very graceful dancer, and caught my eye immediately. I googled you and read your story, and am overwhelmed by your courage and upbeat attitude.

BTW, I think you are very good looking, scars and all, there is just something very appealing about you. I just wish I was 20 years younger!


Jackie Tomczak 5 years ago

I want to thank you............tomorrow on 10/3/11 it will be 4 years to the day that we buried our son Staff Srg Zachary Blaise Tomczak. Your tribute on Dancing brought tears of joy to my heart! Thank you and I will forever be grateful for the honor! Jackie Tomczak


Wanda 5 years ago

I was wondering how many women want you? You are amazing inside and out! Thanks for your service and sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration and amazing!! Keep on dancing!


RFA 5 years ago

It is far better to be beautiful on the inside than out!


SanFranAde 5 years ago

You are a handsome man because your beauty inside shines on the outside - good luck on DWTS - I'll have to start voting...You deserve it


Michelle S ~ from Maine ~ 5 years ago

"Dream and Dream big" my saying has always been "dream, and when you do, dream big" ~JR ... you are very inspirational!!


CLC 5 years ago

Way to go JR. What an inspiration you are and thank you for your courage and compassion. I hope you go to the end and take home the prize - you deserve it. Your dedication to the fallen was truly from the heart and it showed.


Wendy 5 years ago

When he smiles he lights up a room. He has an inner beauty that shows through so you don't even notice his scars. He's an amazing person.


Dana 5 years ago

I know you will think I am just saying this but I really like his looks. His smile is electrifying and his eyes just sparkle. The scars just add an unusual aura to him... I swear he is downright sexy like no other man with less character across his face. I love him.


jade 5 years ago

you inspired me no matter what you kept going.


Kelli 5 years ago

You are an inspiration. Thank you for all you do.


ysassi 5 years ago

Not to be an ass but what I don't get is why all the attention. There is other service men who have lost so much more and r still great hero's and just because they didn't end up on tv this guy gets all this love? Only in America!


linda 5 years ago

How do over come what been through and still go on with life? I'm going through things and I don't know if it going to work for now. Like you got through your burn from serving are country. I, wish I can met you.


lauryn From Kansas 5 years ago

You are my role model! You inspire me to keep going no matter what happens! I love you J.R.!


Colby from Maine 5 years ago

Wow man. You are awesome and my role model! Keep on going man, keep on going!


Viv 5 years ago

Keep doing what you do. god moves threw people places and things.so keep dreaming big


Domanique W. 5 years ago

Oh my gosh that was so beautiful you gave me inspiration and a vision. We as American's judge people on the outside appearance instead of the inside. Most of us would nit sit down or even talk yo someone who's face was damaged. As people we all do that; we all have done that. You have gave me a change of heart. To not look at someone an say they are a bad person just because they do not have a certain look that is appealing to us. Also you have gave me inspiration that even though something bad has happened or there is a bump in the road that there is still faith. And a brighter road if we just look hard enough for it thank you J.R. Martinez thank you very very much for inspiring me to get out of our comfort zones. Thank you Thank you Thank you!


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BooksGalore 5 years ago from Hawaii Author

Congratulations to J. R. and his dancing partner Cheryl Burke. They won the mirror ball on Dancing With The Stars last night (11-22-11)! (He certainly had that hip action going on those Latin numbers!)


Linda B 5 years ago

You are truly an inspiration to me. Your courage and uplifted spirit is so encouraging to me. Thank You for all that you did for us In Iraq.

Thank You & COngratulations!!! to you & Karina on DTWS!!!!


ANGEL:) 5 years ago

WHEN I FIRST SEEN HIM I WAS LIKE "OMG WHAT HAPPEN TO HIM"

BUT ONCE I LOOKED HIM UP I FOUND OUT ABOUT HIS VIDEO AND IT TOUCHED ME I CRYED CAUSE IT WAS SAD, BUT I LIKE HOW HE SAID THAT "he was a mess, now hes a MESSAGE" i love that saying. WELL I JUST WANT TO SAY CONGRATS TO HIM WINNING DWS even though i NEVER watched the SHOW my the judge of WATCHING The View HE DID A GREAT JOB:) & ALSO TO HIS PARTNER.


Yolanda 5 years ago

Eres un hombre muy especial, escojido por Dios para ensenarle una leccion a todo el mundo....que orgullo que eres Latino !


maggie 5 years ago

he is amazing. his story is amazing. what an inspiration!!! i don't understand the end, though!


geoxx 4 years ago

GOD just blessed me by knowing that there's someone named J.R Martinez out there. I am very thankful to God for your life man, I used to carry with me lots of bitterness but hearing your story and seeing you in DWTS encouraged me to the nth power!!!NOW you're on my list of strength..hehe.. Thank you soo much man for not giving up. May God blesses you more and make you a blessing to other millions. You're on our prayers from now on. Go ahead man,,CONQUER!!!!!


florence ncho 4 years ago

J.R. MARTINEZ YOU ARE MY HERO...I AM A BURN SUVIVOR TOO. I KNOW HOW HARD IT IS SPECIALLY AS A WOMAN. BY GOD GRACE I AM GETTING OVER MY SCARES. I USE TO THINK MY LIFE WAS OVER BUT NOW I KNOW IT JUST STARTED. MY SCARES MADE ME A STRONGER PERSONE. WHEN I READ YOUR STORY I WAS SO TOUCH BY YOUR STRONG PERSONALITY. NOW I KNOW THAT THE SKY HAS NO LIMIT FOR ME. I WANT TO BE SINGER AND BECAUSE OF YOU I KNOW I WILL MAKE IT SOMEDAY. THANK YOU FOR INSPIRING ME...LOVE


shinny 4 years ago

scars or no scars you're beautiful god bless you


Sandra 3 years ago

JR inspite of your accident, I think you are truly handsome. You are a hero and God Bless you and your beautiful baby and girlfriend.


Johna197 2 years ago

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