Dancing with the Stars winner J.R. Martinez has some friends in high places now — and he’s even set to make a trip to Washington D.C. to celebrate his win.
Where’s the one place most athletes and entertainers go after a big win: Disney World, of course. Not Dancing With the Stars champ J.R. Martinez — he’s going to the Pentagon!
Why the Pentagon? Martinez, 28, became an actor and motivational speaker after his tour in Iraq back in 2003. The infantryman was severely burned when his vehicle was blasted with roadside bombs.
After his Tuesday night win, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wrote the beaming champion.
“Over the course of this competition, your spirit captivated the nation and your victory sends a powerful message about the strength and resilience of our wounded warriors,” Panetta wrote.
Department of Defense spokesman Capt. John Kirby also revealed that Panetta called Martinez on Friday and invited him for a Pentagon visit. The trip is in the works and should happen within the near future.
The former military man is proud of his past and credits his time in the service as a motivator.
“A lot of guys just have – one arm burned, not – and they would feel that – it’s – it’s over. You know, that there’s no point of going on. And I would say, ‘Man, you know, look at me. You know, I have more visible scars,’ or, ‘I catch more looks, and I’ve made it. I still go out. I still have fun. I still live life,'” the always-positive soldier said in a 2003 interview.
“I’m only 20 years old. You know, why am I gonna sit there and act like there’s no point of living? There is.”
Now Martinez is inspiring other soldiers to live their dreams.
“[His win has] been the talk of the troops,” Pentagon rep Douglas Wilson told the Washington Post.
Image courtesy WENN