By Bill Petzold
WASHINGTON D.C. — Just six weeks after suffering a catastrophic injury, Army Sgt. Travis Mills is living with his wife Kelsey and eight-month-old daughter Chloe in an apartment on post near Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Mills, 25, a 2005 Vassar High School graduate, lost all four of his limbs April 10 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot patrol during his third tour in Afghanistan.
“I wish I didn’t have a case of the ‘Mondays’ on April 10 and have a bad day at work,” Mills told internet news source Huffington Post. “Every now and then people have bad days at work, and my bad day at work had me come back to the States … I don’t like having my arms and legs gone, but with all the technology out there and everything they’re doing for me I’m going to be able to drive, walk, I can still talk.
“And I still have my ‘money maker’: I didn’t get hit in the face.”
Mills’ sense of humor, courage and unflappable optimism have been sources of inspiration for those who knew him as a standout high school athlete. Speaking via cell phone, Mills spoke to those at a benefit held in his honor May 27 at the Richville American Legion hall. Mills thanked the crowd for their generosity, and said he told doctors at Walter Reed that their estimated timeline for his recovery was much too long. Mills said his goal is to be recovered in eight months.
Mills is receiving outpatient care and traveling next door to Walter Reed for daily physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and other treatment.
Attacking his rehabilitation with the same intensity and focus that made him a star athlete, Mills’ progress has been rapid. Videos of him working to control a prosthetic on his left arm have been posted on the internet, and doctors continue to work to fit prosthetics for his legs.
Ironically, Kelsey wrote that baby Chloe stood up by herself in her crib for the first time June 2, so it’s possible that Chloe may take her first steps around the same time her father begins “taking his first wobbly steps” on his prosthetics. “He has some competition!” Kelsey wrote.
In his interview with Huffington Post, Mills offered insight into how he has been able to approach these new challenges in his life with positivity and determination.
“What inspires me the most right now is my eight-month-old and my wife,” he said. “I didn’t marry my wife for her to take care of me, so I can’t sit here and look out the window and wonder why this happened to me.
“Everybody has a bad day, bad things happen, and life is just sometimes tough. My life is not over, it just got a little more unique. So I’m inspired to get better because I have things I want to do with my life.”