Wounded vet, actor to keynote Krannert event

August 30, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — J.R. Martinez, a wounded Iraq War veteran and actor, will give the keynote address Oct. 11 at the Purdue University Krannert School of Management's 12th annual Leadership Speakers Series.

J.R. Martinez

J.R. Martinez
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Martinez, who was crowned "Dancing with the Stars" champion in 2011, is a sought-after motivational speaker whose message is about resilience, optimism and making the most of every situation.

Tickets for the dinner are available to the general public for $100 per person, $75 of which qualifies as a charitable deduction. Net proceeds from the event go to Krannert undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Specially priced tickets are available for Purdue students, faculty and staff.

Martinez, 29, was born in Shreveport, La. He also lived in Hope, Ark., and Dalton, Ga., where he graduated from high school.

He joined the U.S. Army in 2002 and was sent to Iraq in 2003. Less than a month into his deployment, a Humvee he was driving hit a land mine. Three other soldiers with him were ejected, but Martinez was trapped inside. He suffered smoke inhalation and burns over more than 40 percent of his body.

Martinez spent 34 months recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent 33 surgeries.

He traces his interest in motivational speaking to the time a nurse at Brooke asked him to speak to another burn patient who had become withdrawn. After 45 minutes, that patient finally opened up to Martinez.

Martinez also has been an actor, playing an injured Iraq War veteran on ABC TV's "All My Children." The part, originally planned for a three-month arc, lasted for three years.

He became a fan favorite on the 13th season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." He and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, won the competition.

Martinez graduated from the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities in 2008 through Florida State University. Purdue is one of eight U.S. universities participating in EBV, which was created at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management in 2007 to teach participants principles of entrepreneurship and small-business management.

Martinez was named the 2012 disabled veteran of the year by the Disabled American Veterans organization.

Several awards will be presented during the Krannert event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union ballrooms. Those awards are the Krannert Business Leadership Award, Krannert Distinguished Alumni Award, Krannert Distinguished Service Award, John S. Day Distinguished Alumni Academic Service Award and Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Award. Purdue Acting President Timothy Sands and Krannert Dean Chris Earley also will speak.

To reserve tickets for the dinner, contact Melissa Evens, Krannert associate director of special events and EBV, at 765-494-4392, mevens@purdue.edu. More information about the Leadership Series and this year's event is available at http://www.krannert.purdue.edu/events/LSS/

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Source: Tim Newton, 765-496-7271, tnewton@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Media interested in covering the event should contact Tim Newton, Krannert director of external relations, at 765-496-7271, tnewton@purdue.edu. Videotaping and audio recording of the event will not be permitted.

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