I had heard of SSG Travis Mills but knew little of his life experiences or details of his catastrophic injuries received while serving with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. I was drawn to his story because I had read about the Maine based non-profit that he launched called The Travis Mills Foundation which is in the process of creating a retreat for combat injured veterans and their families.
I have not been directly touched by war. I have family members who have served including four generations of Navy sailors starting with my grandfather down to my nephew who is currently serving. I’ve heard the stories. How my grandfather was away for years during the war and how my mother didn’t recognize him when he came home. How his brother woke up one morning during his deployment to discover the men on either side of him dead, and he carried the memories of the war deep inside. How he hated M.A.S.H. because he couldn’t understand why anyone would laugh about war.
My own father was on a ship headed to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and missed my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding. His brother had to stand in as an usher, and proudly wore the same tux to their anniversary celebration a few years back. But, these are the stories passed down and told at family gatherings. They only skim the surface of their military experience, and provide no deep insight into serving during times of conflict and war.
Travis Mills knows what serving your country during these times is like. His book Tough as They Come recounts his experiences through three tours in Afghanistan in a straight forward and detailed manner. While the book spends time providing some background on his upbringing and takes a few enjoyable detours to recount how he met, fell in love with and married his wife, as well as the birth of his daughter, the bulk of the book takes you with him on his deployments. The pages take you through the extremes from the monotony and mundane to the intensity of endless firefights and constant tension. But, the part that stood out most to me was the brotherhood that forms with your fellow soldiers.
The last part of the book covers the aftermath of his injuries and long recovery process. While on his third tour, Travis placed his backpack down on an IED (improvised explosive device) and suffered extensive injuries in the resulting explosion which ultimately resulted in a quadruple amputation. The recovery and rehabilitation process was brutal but his focus and determination to move beyond the injuries and begin living his life again is remarkable. He has become a motivational speaker the seeds of which began even as he was still going through rehabilitation and would visit with and encourage other injured veterans.
While from Michigan originally, he ultimately relocated to Maine where his wife had family. He needed to be in a cold climate as without his limbs it is hard for his body to regulate his temperature and he is always hot.
Travis is thriving, and continues to support and give back to his fellow veterans. He launched the Travis Mills Foundation. The mission as outlined on their website…
“The Travis Mills Foundation supports combat injured veterans and their families through long term programs that help these heroic men and women overcome physical obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation.”
The foundation has purchased the Maine Chance Lodge & Retreat in the Belgrade Lakes region and they are in the process of renovating with plans to open this summer 2017. The retreat will “be a uniquely designed, fully accessible comfortable lodge for relaxation, adaptive sports and family recreation.” Travis continues to focus on and take care of his brothers.
You can checkout the Travis Mills Foundation on social media to follow along with the progress of the renovations, and watch as this retreat becomes a reality. The foundation website also has additional information on ways you can help. Stop by their website to learn more!
|things to know|
|Title||Tough As They Come|
|Author||SSG Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton|
|Number of Pages||256|
|Publisher||Convergent Books, 2015|
|Website||Travis Mills Foundation|
|Travis Mills Foundation
Social Media Links
|Favorite ♥||“Never give up. Never quit.”|