LatinaLista — With television and cable networks ramming so much “reality TV” down our throats these days, it’s a nice change when a fictional TV show weaves in elements of reality.
I’m not talking about a show based on “actual events” but rather a show that actually uses real people to portray their stories versus an actor dressed up for the part — like JR Martinez.
JR (and we’re assuming it doesn’t stand for “junior“) is an actor on the well-known daytime soap All My Children. He plays a wounded combat veteran on the show. Not a real stretch for him since JR is a veteran of the Iraqi war and has the burn scars to prove it.
JR was deployed to Iraq in March 2003 and in April was serving as a driver of a Humvee when his left front tire hit a landmine. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than forty percent of his body. He was immediately evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany for immediate care and eventually sent to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX where he spent 34 months in recovery. Since his injury, J.R. has undergone 32 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.
The scars have left a reminder for JR of that sad day but, to his credit, JR forged a future for himself that he feels would never had been possible without that accident.
Ever since becoming disfigured by the scars, JR has become a spokesman and an inspiration for his fellow wounded veterans, as well as, an inspirational speaker to show everyone that it is possible to overcome what seems like insurmountable odds.
Because of his courage and his willingness to put his face out there using one of the most public mediums that exist, next month the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), will honor JR at their Third Annual Heroes Gala Honoring Innovators in Television.
There is no doubt that JR deserves this honor but he also deserves wider recognition among the Latino community as well and to have his name added to the list of admirable Latino role models.