Local News

February 25, 2009

Soap opera gig offers Martinez chance to further his cause

When thrilled fans approach J.R. Martinez for a picture, an autograph or to chat about his role as a wounded veteran on ABC’s “All My Children,” Martinez can’t help but feel a little awkward.

Five months into his acting stint on the popular soap opera, being a celebrity hasn’t sunk in yet. He still considers himself J.R. Martinez, a regular 25-year-old who has accomplished extraordinary goals almost six years after being severely injured by a land mine explosion in Iraq.

“I’m a symbol for hope, a symbol for life after death to some extent,” said Martinez, a 2002 Dalton High School graduate who was recently in town to visit his mother and friends. “People stop me and it’s a great way for them to kind of say, ‘This is real. It’s not a game. It really can happen.’ At the end of the day, those are the ones that are keeping me on the show, keeping me out in the public eye and supporting me. They’re definitely part of this team as well.”

The national — and worldwide — exposure on ABC has given Martinez a much broader platform to further his cause of helping wounded veterans. Now living in New York City, Martinez has been featured prominently in the media. CNN named Martinez one of several “Young People Who Rock” (you can watch an interview on www.cnn.com) while numerous newspapers including the New York Daily News and magazines such as Soap Opera Weekly have featured his story.

Before he hit television screens across the country, Martinez already had plenty of fans. He’s spent time as a motivational speaker. And for the past five years, Martinez has been a spokesman for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. The nonprofit group helps severely wounded and disabled veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and their families rebuild their lives.

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