J.R. Martinez: A Story of Resilience and Optimism

Posted on 9/21/2012 11:36:42 AM

On Thursday, September 27, 2012, Iraqi War hero J.R. Martinez will visit Fisher Auditorium to share his inspiring story. He will appear as this year’s First Commonwealth Bank Endowed Lecturer, presented as part of the Lively Arts’ Ideas and Issues series. The presentation begins at 8:00 p.m. and will be followed by a question and answer session.

More recently, Martinez has made a name for himself as a daytime television actor on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning daytime drama All My Children and as the 2011 co-champion of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

He has also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, The View, Inside Edition, and Good Morning America, along with additional appearances on major national and international news networks.

Martinez, who played high school football in the Georgia State Championships, enlisted in the U.S. Army after a sports injury derailed his dreams of an NFL career. After undergoing basic training at Fort Benning in 2002, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

In 2003, Martinez was deployed to Iraq, where he would face one of the greatest challenges of his life. Less than a month after his arrival, the Humvee that Martinez was driving struck a landmine. Three other soldiers were ejected from the burning vehicle, but Martinez was trapped inside the blaze, where he suffered severe burns to more than a third of his body.

He went on to spend almost three years in recovery, during which time he underwent 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic reconstructions.

During his time in recovery, Martinez found that he could connect to other traumatized soldiers through his shared experience. The uplifting nature of his indomitable spirit was able to impact the lives of others who were suffering, revealing to Martinez a new path that would open so many doors for him.

Now a highly sought-after motivational speaker, Martinez travels the country to deliver his message of strength and hope. He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, New York Daily News, and People magazine.

Martinez and his girlfriend, Diana Gonzalez-Jones, welcomed a baby daughter, Lauryn Anabelle, in May 2012. Also in May, Martinez narrated the CNN documentary Voters in America: Vets Wanted. His book, Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit, will be released on October 30.

The inaugural First Commonwealth Bank Endowed Lecture in October 2008 featured political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin. The program continued in 2009 with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and investigative reporter Bob Woodward, followed in 2010 with Apollo commander Captain James Lovell Jr. The 2011 lecture was presented by outed CIA operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Up to four tickets can ordered by calling 724-357-1313 or by visiting the Hadley Union Building Box Office on Pratt Drive on the IUP campus. To request more than four tickets, please contact the Lively Arts at 724-357-ARTS (2787) or e-mail lively-arts@iup.edu. Any seats remaining will be available at the door starting at 7:00 p.m.

The lecture is funded by the IUP Student Cooperative Association and First Commonwealth Bank.


Ideas and Issues

J.R. Martinez

J.R. Martinez

September 27, 2012
8:00 p.m.

Fisher Auditorium, IUP Performing Arts Center

Sharing his story of resilience and optimism, J.R. Martinez is an Iraqi War hero, daytime television actor, and recent champion on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. Most recently, Martinez narrated the CNN documentary Voters in America: Vets Wanted. He will speak as the First Commonwealth Bank Endowed Lecturer as part of the Lively Arts Ideas and Issues series.

This event is over.

For more information, visit J.R. Martinez, e-mail , or call 724-357-2787.