FSU Vows to Help Vets, Helps Soldier Become Star

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Florida State University is pledging to become the most veteran friendly school in the nation, using Veterans Day to make the announcement.

FSU already has a history of helping returning soldiers launch new careers.

His sacrifice is written all over his face. An explosion in Iraq in 2003 left former Army Soldier JR Martinez scarred for life. He’s lucky to be alive.

But the Army vet didn’t let his disfigurement stop him. After years of surgery and rehab, Martinez found himself hoisted into the national spotlight; competing on a network dance show and landing a role as a soap star.

But before Martinez made it big in Hollywood, he made a stop at Florida State University. The school hosted a business boot camp to help injured soldiers find new careers.

“There’s another battle you have to face and that’s how do you get to the point where you chase your dreams,” said Martinez.

In June of 2008, Martinez was one of more than a dozen students who attended the program that offers nine days of business training and 12 months of online support.

“This program is a way for guys to broaden their ideas or take a step back and say maybe I’ll go in a different direction that is more suitable for my case and my situation,” said Martinez.

Martinez had no acting experience but off camera he told us, he would like to give it a shot. Three months later he landed his first role on a daytime soap opera.

On Veterans Day, FSU unveiled its plans to lead the nation in educating returning soldiers.

“Transform Florida State University into one of the most veteran friendly campuses in the United States,” said FSU President Eric Barron.

With the end of the Iraq war, more soldiers will be returning home and FSU hopes there will be more stories like JR Martinez.

Florida State University plans to become the most veteran friendly school in the nation. They advanced their plan in an afternoon new conference today. FSU will build a 35-thousand square foot Veterans Center.

The center will assist veterans with federal aid, academic advising, personal counseling and rehabilitation. Today FSU President Eric Barron officially picked a director for the Center. Coronal William Francis, the head of FSU’s Air Force ROTC program will lead the center.

“My family and I look forward to serving the student veterans at Florida State University,” said Francis.

FSU is also launching a Veteran Film Festival. Today and tomorrow the school will screen the movie Hell and Back Again. It’s the story of a returning soldier injured in Iraq that was picked as the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prizewinner.


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