Thursday, November 7, 2019

Actor, author, speaker and wounded U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez to speak at UIS

WHAT: Actor, author, speaker, “Dancing with the Stars” winner and wounded U.S. Army veteran J.R. Martinez will speak at the University of Illinois Springfield on Veterans Day about overcoming adversity and facing life’s challenges head on. The Chatham VFW Post 4763 will provide a color guard for the event, which is free and open to the public.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, 2019

WHERE: UIS Student Union Ballroom, 2251 Richard Wright Drive, Springfield

DETAILS: While serving as an infantryman in Iraq in 2003, Martinez’s Hummer drove over a roadside bomb that caused severe burns to more than 34% of his body. He spent the next 34 months of recovery at the Brooke Army Medical Center and underwent countless plastic surgeries and skin grafts. His message as a motivational speaker is centered on making the most of every situation and using resilience and optimism to overcome life’s challenges.

In 2008, Martinez was cast in the popular ABC soap opera “All My Children” as Brot Monroe, an Army veteran who was injured in combat. In 2011, he was cast on ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars” where he won the season 13 competition. In 2012, he published his New York Times bestselling memoir “Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit.” A year later, he was cast in a new syndicated action-drama series called “SAF3” in a recurring role he portrayed till 2014.

At the event, the new UIS Veterans Emergency Grant will be announced. The grant will help student veterans cover the cost, up to $500, of bills, food, medical expenses and travel in emergency situations. A crowdfunding effort will be launched to help support the fund.

UIS will also hold a Veterans Day flag raising ceremony at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11 in front of the Public Affairs Center.

For more information, contact Mark Dochterman, assistant vice chancellor for student engagement, at 217-206-8448 or

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