Snapshot: Alex Minsky, Marine-turned-model

The war vet and Mission Viejo native on modeling, keeping fit, and staying positive

After losing a leg in Afghanistan in 2009, the retired Marine returned home with a Purple Heart, only to battle depression and alcoholism. Now 25 and two years’ sober, he’s found a unique way of staying on track—while drawing international attention.

“We were on the way to help out some other Marines, and our truck ran over an IED. My right leg was blown off, my right arm was burned, and I had a severe brain injury. I was in a coma for 47 days, and I don’t remember the two months on either side of the accident. As I started to recover, I didn’t know how to cope, so I started drinking. Then out of nowhere, my younger brother died. I didn’t know what was up or down.”

After three DUIs in three months, Minsky got help from Orange County’s Combat Veterans Court. “Instead of treating me like a menace to society, they helped me in my recovery.” Just two days into sobriety, Minsky was approached at the gym by Newport Beach photographer Tom Cullis, who asked him to model. The photos of a shirtless Minsky showing off his prosthetic leg triggered
a chain reaction.

If his face looks familiar, maybe it’s because you’ve seen him modeling as a representative of District 7 on a promotional poster for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.” Or perhaps you saw him on “The View,” or on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” or in Nordstrom’s July catalog. You may even be one of the tens of thousands around the world who follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

“Social media is a way for me to stay accountable, and to check in with people. If I plan to post one positive thing a day, then that at least gets me thinking of something positive.”

Minsky says he takes his newfound modeling career seriously.  He participates in photo shoots—many for charitable causes—as another way to stay productive, and as motivation to keep fit and healthy.

“I’m just sharing my experience, and I’m glad people enjoy that. When people are inspired, it makes me happy. But I’m still just Alex. I’m willing to try new things, and I’d even love to try acting. What can I say? I have nothing to lose.”

GALLERY: To see behind-the-scenes photos from our shoot with Minsky, click here.

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