The Joseph Group

A Wounded Warrior’s Hope and Healing

November 18, 2016

Earlier this month we celebrated Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. We share with you today a story that reminds us their service and dedication to our country is one to honor on November 11th and every day thereafterCurrently, there are only five surviving veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that have quadruple amputations; Retired United States Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne in one of them. 

On April 10, 2012, just six weeks into his third deployment to
Afghanistan, Mills and his team were called to sweep an area for Improvised Explosive Devices. After the area was deemed clear, the athletic,
jovial soldier set down his backpack and an IED exploded, instantly making him
a triple amputee. Two days later, his remaining arm was removed. He woke up on
his 25th birthday to a terrifying new reality.

“For a little while there, I questioned everything. ‘Does God
hate me? Am I bad person? Did I do something in my life to deserve this?’ My
faith was obviously shaken. But then you have to realize that bad things happen
to good people. It’s not that I did anything wrong in life, it’s just the way
the cookie crumbles.”

Gratitude was one way Mills began to find peace and joy again.
“I remembered all those doctors and nurses who worked on me,” he says of the hours of surgeries he
undertook to save his life. “Nine doctors and seven nurses. Two nurses for 9
hours pumped air in and out of my lungs to keep me breathing and I had over 30
blood transfusions. People were rushing to donate blood from them right to me.”

Stubbornness was the other tool that helped him heal. “I didn’t
like people spoon feeding me,” he says. “[The military] brought a guy in from
Missouri who was in the same situation, and he walked into my room. He showed me that
you can go on. And I just said, ‘It’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself and
get moving.’ You realize you’re still alive.”

After thirteen surgeries and hundreds of hours of
rehabilitation, Mills can now “walk, drive, skydive, hold his wife’s hand and
fix his daughter’s breakfast.” Fresh off of a motivational speech in Boston
where he was also promoting his new memoir, Tough as They Come, Mills shares just how normal
his new life is.

“I’m going to get home [to Maine at] about 5 o’clock,” he says,
“and I’m going to hop into my truck and drive my [now 5-year-old] daughter to
swim lessons.”

He’s also had the opportunity to help many other veterans who
have been injured in combat through his non-profit organization, the Travis Mills Foundation. These interactions help remind Mills of the greater purpose
of his injuries. “People ask me all the time if I would go back [in time and
redeploy to Afghanistan] and do it all over again, knowing what I know. I would
absolutely not go back, but this is not me making the calls for my life,” he
says.

Now, he says he no longer wonders why,
but continues to move forward.

“There’s a big difference in dwelling on the past and
reminiscing about the past. I’m very thankful to have had my arms and legs
until age 25. Now I’m just focused on the positive; I have my wife and child,
I’m able to go and run my foundation and be a positive message for other
people, to show them life does go on.” Mills
exudes joy when he says, “all of us are classified as ‘wounded warriors,’ but
I’m not wounded anymore. Yes, I was injured, but I’m healed.”

SSG Travis MillsGuideposts