Travis Mills Foundation
He lost his arms and legs, but not his spirit. Travis Mills helps injured veterans discover life after trauma.
Some people are strong. Some are tough. Some seem unstoppable. And then there's Travis Mills of the Travis Mills Foundation, who will redefine all of those words for you.
He'll tell you that he's like anyone else. He just had a bad day at work.
But Mills's job at the time was Staff Sergeant for the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. And that bad day—April 10, 2012—took away both his arms and his legs.
Today Mills is a quadruple amputee—one of five U.S. servicemen to lose all of his limbs to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But ask and he'll tell you that he doesn't consider himself a wounded warrior. Why?
"I'm not wounded," Mills says.
Instead, Mills considers himself a "recalibrated warrior" — one who's defied all odds and surpassed every expectation on his road to recovery. He taught himself how to walk, then run, then do an incredible number of other things you might not expect: swim, fish, and do CrossFit. He completed his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center in about half the time doctors thought it would take. Along the way, he made lifting the spirits of other injured veterans his new mission.
"I met everybody there. I was one of the first people they got to talk to when they got to the hospital," Mills says. "I think that was impactful because, at Walter Reed, the worst amputation you're going to see is me.
"So here's a guy with no arms and legs who either rolls or walks into your room and is like, 'Hey, man. What's up? How's life treating you? You're in a great spot, you're going to get better, and I can't wait to see you down there. We'll work out together one day.' It really is uplifting.Aa lot of the guys were really thankful for that."
Today Mills is a speaker, an author, an actor, and the head of a foundation that's helping other critically injured vets recalibrate their own lives, the Travis Mills Foundation. This year the foundation opened a beautiful wooded retreat in Central Maine where soldiers who've lost limbs can spend a week with their families free of charge.
"And I can tell you right now, I'm the president [of the foundation] and I have six other wonderful board members — we're never going to pay ourselves," Mills says. "We don't take a dime for this, and all the money raised goes towards the project, it goes towards the Travis Mills Foundation, and the retreat, and bringing the families up so the families don't have any cost when they get up here."
The retreat is already earning incredible praise from the servicemen and women that it's served. And it's going the extra mile to help even more. Initially scheduled to stay open only through the end of October, the retreat extended its inaugural season in order to help military families displaced by the Hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
In this episode, you'll find out how Travis survived his terrible injuries, who inspired him to take on an excruciating recovery, and how he learned to walk again with some help from his young daughter, Chloe. You'll also learn how a past guest on Crazy Good Turns, The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, helped Travis, his wife, Kelsey, and Chloe, get back to a more normal life. And you'll hear one inspiring, incredible quote after another from a man who is truly unstoppable.
Want to hear about other organizations doing amazing things on behalf of America's vets? Then you should definitely check out our episodes on the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and our show on Team Rubicon.
As you'll hear in this episode, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation isn't just named after the incredible NYC Firefighter who ran on foot in full gear to try and save people on 9/11. The organization is helping build smart homes to assist our nation's injured vets—including Mills.
Team Rubicon, meanwhile, is helping former soldiers take the skills they learned at war and repurpose them into a way to help those caught up in the world's worst disaster areas.
And while we're on the subject of disasters, we think it's pretty cool that Travis's Foundation is continuing to help those affected by the onslaught of hurricanes in Florida and Texas. If that sort of work is near and dear to your heart too, you should dig into our show on St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services.
These folks work on the very front lines of our nation's biggest natural disasters, directly helping those affected to rebuild their lives—work that can take years or longer. They got their start by doing the seemingly impossible during Hurricane Katrina, and have been getting stronger every year since. And the story of their leader, Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, will definitely get you fired up. Give their story a listen.
Did you like this story? Then sign up for our newsletter. It's a bi-weekly dose of inspiration delivered directly to your inbox.