July 17 – 23, 2020Vol. 22, No. 6

One Veteran's Experience

by Kay Overfield

I couldn't take any more rehab. Had to get away. Travis Mills Foundation — exactly what I needed.

Late one afternoon when the scheduled events were over, we helped put the dock in order. Kayaks were pulled out of the water, and totes with life jackets, supplies and water bottles were put away. As we headed uphill to the cabin, a couple in a golf cart motioned for us to come over. They were sitting there enjoying the view of the lake. The vet had an amputated leg, very high on the thigh with some metal protruding from the stump. He introduced himself and his wife and thanked us for being volunteers explaining that we couldn't possibly know how great it was to be here.

He came from Walter Reed Hospital where he has been receiving treatment, surgeries and therapy for many years. He is undergoing a new procedure that will hopefully allow him to wear a prosthetic leg. The procedure is called osteo-integration — a difficult, painful process. The man said he wants to see this through, but last week, he had had it — couldn't go on another day. He told the hospital staff that he was leaving, had to get away — just for a little while. He absolutely had to get away. Now! Didn't care where. The staff member he spoke with said he just might have an idea — a place he'd heard about that would be the perfect little get-away — the Travis Mills Foundation in Mount Vernon, Maine.

He told us that being here in these beautiful surroundings, going to the lake, talking with the other families, was exactly what he needed. Perfect. We spent quite a bit of time with this gentleman. He explained in-depth his experiences since his injury many years ago. We could see that he wanted to tell his story. His lovely wife nodded agreement and occasionally added comments and anecdotes. They both had good things to say about their medical treatment, Walter Reed hospital and the personnel there. They were both experts about all things relating to amputations. It was touching to hear how their lives revolved around this injury for so many years and how it had changed them. But it was clear how devoted to each other they were; and how they were determined to make the best of things.

Then he told us, in detail, all the things he and his wife had done during their stay here. "I needed this, really needed this. And it's not over yet. Tonight — is lobster night! How good is that?" He thanked us again. No sir, thank you!

Kay Overfield is a volunteer at the Travis Mills Foundation.