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J.R. Martinez to be Honored with the 2009 IAVA Veterans Leadership Award

New York, New York – The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America  (IAVA), the first and largest nonprofit education and advocacy organization for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will hold its Third Annual Heroes Gala on Tuesday, November 10 at 6p.m. at the Gotham Hall in New York City.

Hosted by NBC Nightly News Brian Williams, this event will honor Iraq Veteran and All My Children actor J.R. Martinez with the 2009 IAVA Veterans Leadership Award for his work as a spokesman for his fellow wounded veterans.

Born in Shreveport, LA on June 14, 1983, J.R. Martinez enlisted in the United States Army in September 2002 and was deployed to Iraq in March 2003.  In April, while serving as a driver of a Humvee, his left front tire hit a landmine, and he suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. He was immediately evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany 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.

J.R. has been featured in The Washington Post, PEOPLE magazine, CNN, 60 Minutes, US Weekly, the Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, Inside Edition and other major national news outlets.  He has traveled the country since 2004 sharing his message of resilience and optimism and has even shared the stage with global self-help guru Tony Robbins and evangelist Dave Roever.  Today J.R. is a sought-after motivational speaker, called on by large corporations such as REMAX, BB&T, veterans groups, schools, and other organizations. In October 2008, J.R. joined the cast in ABC's Emmy® Award-winning daytime drama, All My Children, as combat veteran Brot Monroe.

While J.R.'s experience is certainly life-changing, amazingly he claims this is actually a change for the better. He has discovered it's what's inside a person that matters most and devotes himself to showing others the true value in making the most of every situation.

This year's event will also honor Van Toffler, President of MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, with the IAVA Civilian Service Award for his efforts to create programming that shows the true face of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Of both award recipients, Founder and Executive Director of IAVA Paul Rieckhoff said the IAVA is thrilled “to be honoring two individuals who have made a tremendous difference in the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. JR and Van are both incredible leaders who have made a profound difference in the lives of millions. Both have demonstrated exceptionally strong leadership and have utilized the power of television in an internet age to make a difference in the lives of this country's newest generation of heroes.”

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the first and largest Iraq and Afghanistan veterans' group in America, with over 150,000 member veterans and civilian supporters nationwide.  This nonprofit and non-partisan group works to create a country that supports and improves the lives of its newest generation of veterans and their families through education, community, and advocacy.  For more information, please visit  HYPERLINK

To learn more about J.R. Martinez, visit  HYPERLINK "".


GO JR!. We are thrilled for you. JR is an amazing wounded warrior and human being. Please visit his web site and learn more. is happy for you. Your friend, Debbie Gregory could not be happier when you sent this PR to let her know of this incredible honor. JR is an inspiration for so many. He knows how to live life to fullest and overcome diversity. JR gives of himself to many and especially those dealing with challenges. JR, thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifices and bravery in the face of adversity. I am proud to Know JR.

Debbie Gregory, CEO