Leadership event honors alumni, features J.R. Martinez

The Krannert School honored five Purdue alumni at its 12th annual Leadership Speakers Series event in October. J.R. Martinez (above), a wounded Iraq War veteran and actor, gave the keynote address.

The awards and recipients were:

Martinez, 29, 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.

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

Martinez also has been an actor, playing an injured Iraq War veteran on ABC TV's All My Children.

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