CLEVELAND — "You can't always control your situation, but you can always control your attitude. I mean, I keep the best attitude I can because I'm in control of that. No matter if I have arms and legs or not."
Retired Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills gets your attention and makes you listen with his positive perspective. Injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2012, he woke up on his 25th birthday a quadruple amputee.
"The real key to my success is I quit asking why it happened," said Mills. "I think too many times people dwell on the fact that something happened, whether it's my story in the military or cancer-related. And I found out that no matter how many times I asked why this happened, I was never get the right answer so I could ask him why. And I started just figuring out how can I go about life, living it to the fullest?"
After he recovered at Walter Reed, motivated by his wife and young family, he was determined to share his story. He’s done so in a best-selling book, as well as motivational speeches across the country. And through his work with the Travis Mills Foundation.
"I wanted to get back to these families going through the same thing, and that's why we started the Travis Mills Foundation to bring these families together, let them know that they don't have to live life on the sidelines. They can still be active in society with their families."
So-called recalibrated vets like Mills and their families experience a weeklong retreat in Maine.
"We show them that life goes on and that they can still kayak and they can still downhill mountain bike and they can go horseback riding. And we give them this opportunity so that they can live a positive life," said Mills. "It's not just about the service member, that's going through this. It's about their family, their spouse, their children."
It’s empowering and healing, and it’s all for free. But it fills up quickly.
This Veteran’s Day, he’s raising money here in Northeast Ohio, on stage at the Lorain Palace Theater, with the help of country music superstar John Rich and Dave Mortach Financial, who is personally matching up to $500,000 in donations.
"Everything people donate, it gets matched automatically $500,000 match, which is just out of this world awesome," said Mills. "That's like one of the coolest things, right. Not just helping these families, but also like the connections that you make and the people that are willing to step up and do big things like, like Dave and his wonderful wife."
The retreat is currently expanding, adding a Health and Wellness Center to serve families 42 weeks a year. But he has bigger plans, hoping to open even more facilities across the country.
"It's all about how much we can do for other veterans and their families and how we can stretch every dollar to the maximum potential," said Mills.
If you know a veteran who would qualify for the foundation’s programs, you can find out more HERE.
Donations will be matched through this link.
You can also find information about volunteering your time, or spreading Travis Mill’s mission and message here.
You can follow Travis on Instagram at @ssgtravismills.
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