'DWTS' Champ Martinez Named Rose Parade Grand Marshal

J.R. Martinez has earned praise from around the world after winning this season of “Dancing with the Stars,” including congratulations from the Pentagon.

In addition, the actor has been named the 2012 Rose Parade Grand Marshal. President of the Tournament of Roses, Rick Jackson, explained the reasons behind honoring the Iraq war veteran.

“His outlook on life is admirable and we couldn’t be happier to have the chance to celebrate the New Year with him as we entertain the millions of fans around the world during the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game,” said Jackson, according to The Wrap.

Martinez took to Twitter after winning the season 13 “DWTS” mirror ball trophy.

“First day in #LA with no Rehearsal Feeling great after a relaxing night of sleep in my own bed. Now I’m off to take on the day~ first I #pray,” the 28-year-old “All My Children” star wrote.

In 2003, Martinez was severely burned on over 40 percent of his body while on tour in the U.S. Army. He now travels around the country speaking about his experiences to veterans groups, students, corporations, and many other organizations.

The “DWTS” champion has been hailed as a hero, and the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addressed a letter to the veteran honoring his accomplishments.

“Over the course of this competition, your spirit captivated the nation and your victory sends a powerful message about the strength and resilience of our wounded warriors,” wrote Panetta according to the Department of Defense.

In addition to the letter, Martinez received a phone call from Panetta Friday where the Secretary of Defense expressed his high approval, according to Department of Defense spokesman Cap. John Kirby. Also, Martinez has received an invitation to the Pentagon and a meeting is in the works said Kirby.

Martinez won the coveted championship alongside professional dancer Karina Smirnoff, who served as his partner.

People magazine reported that another Pentagon spokesman, Douglas Wilson, said Martinez and Smirnoff’s “DWTS” victory has been “the talk of the troops.”