Retired Marine Cpl. Alex Minsky’s life took a surreal and unexpected turn this year as he sat on a couch next to Barbara Walters, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy. The ladies of The View were admiring him, not just over his heroic military service or the fact that he’d been awarded the Purple Heart. The reason he was invited on the show was his recent success as fashion’s hottest new male model.

“I never thought in a million years that I would become a model,” Minsky said during a shoot in Los Angeles. “Even before the accident it was never one of my goals.”

Minsky’s journey from the battlefield to the runway is straight out of a Hollywood movie. On June 1, 2009, just three weeks into his first tour in Afghanistan, his Humvee ran over a roadside bomb. His bottom jaw was broken in four different places, his arm was torn to shreds, and his right leg was blown off just below the knee. Doctors told his mother, Jackie, that Alex had suffered a traumatic brain injury and would probably not survive. If he did, they said, his life would never be the same.

To everyone’s surprise, Minsky pulled through but he had severe depression and turned to drinking. He later found a positive way to cope by hitting the gym. On his second day of sobriety, a photographer named Tom Cullis approached him during one of his workouts, and asked whether he’d ever consider modeling. Minsky thought the guy was out of his mind. But Tom persisted, and Minsky eventually relented.

Over the next year, Minsky’s test shots went viral. His Facebook fan page boasts more than 250,000 followers, more than Simon Nessman and Sean O’Pry, the industry’s top moneymaking models, combined. A picture on his Instagram account can easily fetch 2,000 likes. And the fashion world has noticed.

“The thing about Alex is that his amputation doesn’t define him, “said Eythor Bender, CEO of UNYQ, a company that 3D prints custom and highly customized prosthetic covers. Minsky is now modeling UNYQ’s covers, known as prosthetic covers. “I’ve watched him take magazine interviews and the fact that he’s missing a foot doesn’t even make the fine print of his story,” added Bender. “Alex shared with us that his goal was to illustrate the phoenix rising from the ashes on his body with tattoos, and his prosthetic cover ““ which he designed ““ has expanded the canvas on his body and allowed him to complete his vision. I like to think that when Alex wears our prosthetic cover, he’s saying, “˜Don’t look away. Look at me! This is who I am,’ said Bender.

Minsky was wearing his UNYQ prosthetic cover with swimwear while walking the runway at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in NYC for Art Hearts Fashion Spring/Summer 2015 looks on September 11th at 4pm, at Lincoln Center.

“It’s been crazy,” said Minsky. “People are starting to recognize me so this will be the best possible opportunity to show off my freshly designed fairing.”