Pop Culture

Veterans group applauds 'Dancing' choice

ABC / Today

Say what you will about the cast for the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars,” and our readers have had a whole lot to say about it — good and bad — but the Coalition for Iraq + Afghanistan Veterans has nothing but praise for the selection of actor and Iraq war vet J.R. Martinez.

“I think it is wonderful that he is on the show,”the group’s program director, Amy Fairweather told Radar Online. “People don’t have an understanding of the war and the impact it has on people’s lives. It will be great for them to see how strong and committed a person J.R. is to have come through that.”

Martinez suffered severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body when was trapped in a burning Humvee after the vehicle hit a landmine in Iraq. The soldier-turned-soap star endured dozens of surgeries, including skin grafts, following the incident.

It’s Fairweather’s hope that Martinez’s ballroom presence won’t help only the general public understand the impact of war, but that it might also allow other war vets to feel truly represented on television.

“They feel invisible in our society, so seeing someone who has been through what they have on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ says that people are taking notice and they are not invisible, and they can say: ‘That is me,’ ” Fairweather explained.

Martinez will waltz alongside profession ballroom dancer Karina Smirnoff when the 13th season of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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