Update: Have you ever had a moment in your life when someone or something changed you forever? Yesterday, I had that moment. In a rustic dining hall packed with veterans, lobster, laughter and an whole lot of camaraderie, I met Travis Mills. His jovial spirit and engaging smile don’t serve to mask the tragedy he’s been through…those traits are who he is and who he has always been. Travis has a divine spark within him which manifests as a burning desire to support, encourage and lift others up especially during difficult times. This is his story of help and hope for fellow veterans and their families.
First (Lady) Encounter
I first became aware of the National Veterans Family Center concept a few weeks ago when I had the remarkable opportunity to visit with the First Lady of Maine, Mrs. Ann Lepage at our state’s capitol in Augusta. My mom was the mayor of our hometown for several terms so the idea of someone committing themselves to public service, especially at the local and state levels, has always inspired me. As I walked up to the front entrance of the Blaine House, in the shadow of the Capitol Building, I felt a sense of awe and reverence for those willing to serve. Mrs. Lepage is a passionate supporter of our military service men & women as well as military families and veterans. Her commitment along with the vision and dedication of so many military, veterans and civilians has resulted in greater awareness of some remarkable individuals and organizations who support our nation’s finest. In this two part special, I will profile groups whose desire to serve is met with their dedication to make a difference in lives of our veterans and wounded warriors.
The Travis Mills Project
At 25 years old, most of us either will have or have had visions of accomplishing anything we set our minds to achieving with a world of unlimited opportunities in front of us. On his 25th birthday, however, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills’ life was forever altered. As the fifth surviving quadruple amputee from Iraq & Afghanistan, the past 16 months have been a grueling journey back to health. [Watch the video trailer]
Remarkably, at a time when you would think he has more than earned the right to focus 100% on his recovery, Travis was thinking about other wounded veterans. The Travis Mills Foundation is working towards Travis’s vision of a recreation center for veterans and their families, “a place where they could all get back to nature and the activities that instill the confidence to keep moving forward.”
August 25–31, 2013 was host to several heroic veterans and their families. I want to additionally honor the service and sacrifice of the other amazing veterans we met last night including Taylor Morris, Drew Mullee, Jeremy Gilley, Brendan Higgins and Eric Burkett. Several of these veterans are still in recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center so a trip to Maine is a welcome diversion for these amazing warriors and their equally courageous families. On behalf of a very grateful nation, I thank you all for your service and sacrifice.
Even as wars end and conflicts subside, the wounds both visible and hidden remain for our veterans and their families. As military families, we maintain a unique bond of brotherhood. No matter the political environment, social acceptance, or popularity, that connection remains. Resources like The Travis Mills Project — National Veterans Family Center, are a lifeline of hope and healing to our own.
“Be Bold and Mighty Forces Will Come to Your Aid.”
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.