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by Martha F. Barkley
Last summer we were so fortunate to have quadruple amputee Travis Mills present his comedy hour at Belgrade Public Library. He was not trying to sell his book Tough as They Come, but he was trying to promote the renovation of the Elizabeth Arden Estate on Long Pond for veterans of war.
I say comedy hour, because Travis has always been a comedian and now that he is a quadruple amputee, his wounded war condition is part of his act. After the crowd laughed for an hour, it was time for Q&A. He answered very real daily pain questions and explained how this summer vets and their families would be given a week on Long Pond.
His book, now out in paperback, has a better cover in Travis's estimation. The hardback cover posing "to look tough" made him a little uncomfortable. The paperback has his daughter hugging his leg, or prosthetic to be exact. Travis Mills kept telling us how normal he is now with all that has been given to him.
His beautiful new home in Manchester was built to meet his every need. His wife's parents moved from their Texas retirement to help. Every morning his father-in-law helps him to put on his legs. Not easy and very painful.
When injured, he knew he would die. Travis Mills ordered paramedics to help his men rather than himself. They did not follow that order. When he realized he was a quadruple amputee, he ordered his wife to divorce him. She did not and I understand a second child is now on the way.
His book is certainly worth reading and he warned the library crowd that his viewpoint was religious in nature. What he kept repeating was the foundation where he was working wanted to help vets to vacation with their families. What could be better than a week on a lake? Every Sunday evening the new families are flown in by private jet. They take pontoon boats on a sunset cruise and stop at a dock on lower Long Pond where Hope Baptist, Manchester, and Old South, Belgrade friends meet and greet.
It is very moving to know that Travis Mills and his foundation have helped to make all this possible here in our neighborhood. The Travis Mills Foundation headquarters are in Hallowell and Wounded Warrior Funds for vets are most welcome. To have a vacation with their family is healing for these veterans of war.