ROME, Maine — Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills was used to barking orders and having them obeyed, but he owes his life to two that were disregarded: Medics ignored him when he told them it was futile to save his life, and his wife ignored him when he told her to leave him.
Mills survived horrific war injuries that left him a quadruple amputee, and with help from his wife and family, he's fully recovered.
On Sunday, the 30-year-old had a big smile on his face at the formal dedication of a lakeside camp created by his foundation to help injured veterans and their families. This summer, 56 families will be visiting the camp to continue the recovery process. They'll do things like kayaking, fishing and tubing.
Mills said it's important for veterans with war injuries to do things with their families and not be sidelined by their injuries.
He told the crowd his life changed on a similar outing when he discovered he'd be able to fully participate in family activities.
"I didn't think that I had a lot left to give as a father, to be honest, and then I realized on one of these trips that I can do kayaking, I can go boating, I can go tubing and fishing. And I can do things adaptively with my family," he said, as his 5-year-old daughter Chloe stood alongside him.
Nearly $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions have gone into operations and overhauling the former lakeside home of cosmetics magnate Elizabeth Arden.
Mills said he'll be dropping by to see how the campers are doing. But he's also busy running a marina and inn. And at some point this summer, his wife will be giving birth to their second child.
The soldier who was injured during his third tour in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division uses his personal story to motivate others. He's one of only five soldiers and Marines to survive losing all four limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He calls himself a recalibrated warrior instead of wounded warrior. "I was injured, sure, but I'm not anymore. I'm completely healed," he said before the event.