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Wounded Veteran and Soap Opera Star to Speak at Clarkson University

[A photograph for media use is available at]

A few months after being deployed to Iraq in 2003, U.S. Army Infantryman Martinez was driving a Humvee when his left front tire hit a landmine. He suffered severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body as well as smoke inhalation. Martinez spent 34 months at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, undergoing 32 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery.Wounded Veteran and Soap Opera Star to Speak at Clarkson University

Now, he inspires the lives of others through his amazing story of resilience, perseverance and optimism.

Martinez will speak on Tuesday, March 9, at 6:30 p.m. in Clarkson University’s Cheel Campus Center Barben Rooms. His presentation, "Odds Are Life is Going to Throw You a Curve or Two: an amazing story of perseverance and resilience!," is free and open to the public.

Martinez also plays police officer Brot Monroe on the ABC soap opera "All My Children."

"I have hope, and I believe, and I’m never going to quit," says Martinez. "And if you do those things, you’ll be surprised where your life can take you because... only in America where this can happen, you can go from losing your life to now being on a soap opera."

J.R. Martinez was born in Shreveport, La., in 1983 to Maria Zavala. He faced many goals as a young man growing up without a father. To this day he has never met his father. This left a young boy to face the difficulties of teenage life without the love and guidance of a male role model in his life. Even so, he managed to overcome these barriers and stay on the right path.

He enlisted in the United States Army in September 2002 and underwent Basic and Advanced Training at Fort Benning, Ga., where he gained skills as an 11-B Infantryman. After reporting to Fort Campbell in January of 2003, he was assigned to his unit: 2/5/02 Delta Company. He was deployed to Iraq in March and hit the landmine less than a month later on April 5, 2003.

Due to his positive attitude, Martinez has spoken to more than 450 groups across the country. His audiences include a wide range, including Tony Robbins seminars, national business conferences, churches, veterans groups, civic groups, sporting events, schools and many other public and private organizations.

He’s made hundreds of broadcast appearances, as well as been interviewed by hundreds of print and online reporters about his war experiences and his personal road to recovery. Martinez has appeared on ABC, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, Univision, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Deborah Norville Show, and Good Morning America, and has been featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, Associated Press, Yahoo and People Magazine.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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