More than two million Americans have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. An increasing number of troops who return come back with damaged minds and bodies.
Since 2001, around 1,650 U.S. troops have lost arms, hands, legs, or feet while in combat in these countries, according to a report from 2015. Quadruple amputee Travis Mills is one of those vets.
Mills was a staff sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. While on patrol during his third tour in Afghanistan, Mills was critically wounded by an explosive device. He lost all four limbs and had to endure a grueling 19-month recovery.
He is one of only five quadruple amputees that have survived from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he has gone on to tell his story to the world by writing a book, becoming a motivational speaker, and starting his own nonprofit organization. The Travis Mills Foundation helps fellow wounded veterans and their families in various ways.
Through his foundation, Mills has been able to take a property in Rome, Maine, and transform it into a very special retreat for veterans and their loved ones. The vacation home aims to be a tranquil getaway where retired troops with special needs can go for some much-needed R&R with their families. It is also meant be a bonding experience — a safe space where vets can share their experiences with others who are going through the same thing.
The best part? It's all free.
The retreat, which is scheduled to open on June 25, is a 16-room, 11,000 square-foot estate that was once owned my cosmetics innovator Elizabeth Arden. To restore and run the historic house, Mills raised $2.75 million in donations.
In an interview with People, Mills said, “The majority of our donations come from everyday proud Americans. We get letters from grandmas that are 87 that say, ‘I don’t have much. Hope this helps with something.’”
Over the next seven weeks, the foundation will be hosting dozens of families from all over the country.
After everything he's been through, Mills is an inspiration to us all. Just as the Travis Mills Foundation's motto states, "Never give up. Never quit." This can and should apply to all walks of life.