, which provides custom-built mortgage-free homes to disabled veterans and spouses of fallen veterans, to help them rebuild their lives.

“What helped me, honestly,” Martinez says, “was having the opportunity to go and be a part of helping vets. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to Iraq; I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that job again. So, the fact that I was able to serve in that capacity, it helped me. It allowed me to forget about everything I was going through. It was therapeutic.”

Martinez also has a message for those who worry about interacting with or hiring veterans who may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“That just goes to show the lack of education that people have,” he says. “They hear PTSD, and they have a tendency to gravitate towards it, stick to it, and all of a sudden classify everyone with PTSD, that they’re a walking time bomb. But that’s not the case.

“PTSD just means you’ve seen some things, you’ve dealt with some things. You just need to get them to talk, just need to give them some hope. Me being out there, me having a voice, helps them a lot. Educating Americans on who we are and what we are, helps them as well.

“A lot of these guys don’t feel that they have a voice. If I can help them, if I can be that voice, that’s my job; that’s my duty; that’s my way to keep continuing to serve.”

And Martinez is getting support on his ballroom endeavors from his fellow vets and active-duty service members — but there is a price to pay.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he says, “I know that military guys, because it is the military, we like to make fun of each other all the time. They’re going to give me some grief.

“I know they’re supporting me, and regardless of all the fun and games and the nicknames that they’ve given me, they’ll be picking up the phone and going online to vote.”

Posted by:Kate O'Hare