Nicolette Martinez was born 2 July 1970, in Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated from Smith High School in 1988, after which she waited tables for two years.
Martinez enlisted in the U.S. Navy (USN) in 1989. She entered boot camp in Orlando, Florida, in September of 1990, and then went to quartermaster training. In March 1991, she was stationed aboard the USS Haleakala, an ammunition supply ship stationed in Guam.
In February 1993, Martinez was station in San Diego, California, where she worked briefly in the office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG). She was then assigned to the USS Cape Cod, based in Bahrain, which patrolled the Persian Gulf. She returned to San Diego in July of 1993, where she performed master-at-arms duty until her discharge from the USN in 1994.
After completing her service, Martinez returned to Greensboro. She used the GI Bill to continue her education, and worked as a substance abuse counselor.