“I used to hate this day”

Few souls know better Travis Mills that life can change in an instant.

During his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, the US Army staff sergeant was having a “normal day at work” when an improvised explosive device detonated at a rest stop. He came to six seconds later to find that all of his limbs had been blown off.

“My little girl – will I ever see her again?” he asked as a medic, who had tourniquets tied to his arms and legs.

Four days later he woke up in the hospital: as one of five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he survived a quadruple amputation. Against all odds, Mills was still alive, but he was now missing his left arm below the elbow, right arm below the shoulder, and both legs above the knee.

He wasn’t sure if he could still be a good husband and father. “I told my wife to leave me,” he recalled to The Post. “But she stayed.”

Travis Mills 10th day of life
Mills (left) before losing his limbs. Only four other soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have survived quadruple amputations.
The Travis Mills Foundation

“I used to hate this day, but I realized how grateful I am to be able to celebrate it because those injuries should have ended my life.”

Travis Mills

Mills told his doctors he would be discharged from the hospital in 10 months – he needed to return to his family, he explained.

“It was one task after another. Somebody had to support me and then I got my own arm to support myself and then I could walk again and get my life back,” he said. Eventually, he and his young daughter learned to walk at the same time.

“Now she’s 10 and she doesn’t remember me with my limbs,” Mills said.

A decade has passed since April 10, 2012, when Mills miraculously survived the explosives blast as the 34-year-old celebrated his tenth annual Alive Day this weekend.

“For me, it’s a day of thinking about what happened and how far we’ve come since my wife got that call not knowing if I’m going to live or die,” said the now-retired Mills, who is now a Motivator has become a speaker, author and entrepreneur. “I used to hate this day, but I realized how grateful I am to celebrate it because those injuries should have ended my life.”

Travis Mills 10th day of life
Mills with his wife Kelsey and their two children.
The Travis Mills Foundation

In the years since he nearly died, Mills has pledged to share his experiences as proof of the incredible human ability to survive even the most horrifying ordeal.

“I tell people the two life lessons I’ve lived by are don’t dwell on the past but remember it and you can’t always control your situation but you can always control your attitude,” he said .

In addition to telling his story through his 60 or so annual lectures around the world, Mills has also written a book and starred in a documentary about it. He also founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers an all-inclusive healing retreat, among other resources and programs, to veterans injured on active duty or as a result of their service to the nation. He also owns a restaurant in central Maine, not far from the individual smart home he shares with his wife, daughter and four-year-old son.

Travis Mills 10th day of life

“I’m grateful that I’m still there for my family and friends,” Travis said.

Travis Mills 10th day of life

Mills teaches a seminar on self-motivation and overcoming adversity.

He was even the inspiration for local Maine beer maker Baxter Brewing Co Limb-It-Less Blonde Ale.

Fate has not been kind to Travis Mills, and yet in the 10 years since he stood at death’s door, he has not only reclaimed his life, but made it a beacon of resilience for anyone and everyone who shares his story hears.

“Eventually you realize they won’t grow back, so you can ponder that or get better — I try to live my life like not having legs is anything else. I’m not going into that,” he told the Post. “My whole job is to get people to look past the injuries and see me for myself.”

Travis Mills 10th day of life
Mills started running again just seven weeks after his injury.
The Travis Mills Foundation “I used to hate this day”


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