Less than three years after losing his arms and legs in war, former Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills is charging ahead on a mission to renovate a sprawling estate in the Maine countryside to provide a retreat for the healing of other veterans recovering from their wounds.
The property, owned by cosmetics tycoon Elizabeth Arden, was the first spa in the United States and served to pamper celebrities like Judy Garland, Ava Gardner and former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.
Originally built as a country home in 1929, today, it is rundown and needs lots of repairs. It’s a Herculean effort for anyone, but the former staff sergeant has the qualifications. He’s used to challenges — and beating the odds.
Mills is one of only five quadruple amputees to survive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, his life is “not a sob story,” he told the CBS affiliate in Chicago last year. His buoyant personality shines through the work his work— whenever he gives speeches or leads tours on the 17-acre estate to support the mission.
More Than A Face Lift
Mills, a Maine native, believes his state’s natural beauty will give recovering vets a break from the stress of everyday life.
Christine Toriello, executive director of his foundation, told WCSH-TV, “The best therapy happens when you’re roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.”
His foundation purchased the lakeside property for $460,000 and is raising $1.7 million through GoFundMe to pay off loans and bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a documentary about his experiences, Travis Mills: A Soldier’s Story, the former staff sergeant said, “They call me a hero, but I am not sure what part of it makes me a hero.”
If his foundation succeed, he may have to get used to being called a hero all over again.
(WATCH the video from WGME)
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