J.R. Martinez on Anderson: My Scars Are My Uniform

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J.R. Martinez's victory tour brought him to Anderson this week.

There, he talked about his experience in Iraq as well as winning Dancing With the Stars, and being included in People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive issue.

“After 33 surgeries, I better be!" Martinez joked, referring to the burn treatments and skin graft operations he's endured since being badly hurt in Iraq.

Since 2003, his life story has been one of triumph over adversity.

Martinez began counseling other wounded veterans, then working as a motivational speaker all across the country before landing a role on All My Children.

Now, he's one of 2011's big breakout stars, winning DWTS, being honored by the Defense Department, Grand Marshaling the Rose Parade and so forth.

Martinez said he embraces the opportunities he has, with his newfound fame, to be an advocate for veterans, and says he will always serve our country.

"You can take away my camouflage, you can take away my M16, which is my weapon, but I look at it now... my new weapons are my words and my new uniform is my scars,” he explained. “I'm going to continue to serve in a bigger way."

"I feel this is going to be needed with the talks of pulling our guys out of Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing them home ... it’s important for me to be that voice.”

After driving over a landmine, he spent the next "two and a half years in and out of the hospital" undergoing the never-ending procedures to restore his person, adding details about the journey of self-discovery he embarked on in his recovery.

"It was a tough road at 19 years old, to look at your body and your face, and say, 'What am I going to do about this now? How am I going to move forward?'” he said.

"Thinking you're completely alone and no one in the world understands or can relate to you, but luckily, I was able to see a side that I can use my second chance at life as an opportunity to help people with their first chance at life.”

It's not often you look at a celebrity and see a true hero among us, but J.R. may be that person. We wish him the best in all of his continuing endeavors.

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Just when I've almost given up hope on society, along comes J.R. The word "hero" has become overused over the past few years. J.R., however epitomizes what the word really means. I have enormous respect for how he has handled what life has thrown him. He could have become a hollow, bitter shell of himself but he prefers to use his life experiences to help get recognition for others who have also served our country and given so much. He exemplifies what a role model should be and I hope parents will take the time to share his story with their kids and give them the opportunity of how we should all live our lives. Thank you, J.R. for all you've given and continue to give. You are a true hero.

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Hey man, you rock dude. God bless your mission. Most in the military are racist pigs...you have changed many a heart.

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As mentioned on JR's Twitter page; JR please keep spreading your positive energy. You are one in a million. I hope to see much more of you because you are that "voice" that can give people the inspiration & hope they may need. Love that beautiful smile. I am sure your mom is proud of you & all your positivity. God bless you!!!!!!

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