Travis Mills

By Marcus Brotherton

If you meet in person retired Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, 28, or hear him speak, or read his new book, TOUGH AS THEY COME, you’ll notice right away that Travis doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder.

 In fact, he’ll tell you how lucky he is.

 This will strike you as pretty crazy stuff, because Travis has truly lost a lot.

 At his peak, Travis was a huge athletic guy, 6’3” tall, 275 pounds, with a 22-inch bicep and a 64-inch chest.

 He could run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds—fast enough to play professional football, although he went into the military instead. He loved his job, and was married to a beautiful woman, Kelsey, and they had a precious daughter together, Chloe.

 But everything changed for Travis on April 10, 2012.

 That day, during his third deployment with the famed 82nd Airborne Division, he and his men were on a routine mission near a remote village in southern Afghanistan. They checked the area for mines, and the report came back okay. Then Travis set his backpack down on the dirt.

That one little action was all it took.

 Travis saw a flash of flame and heard a huge ka-boom. His backpack had triggered a hidden IED. And Travis’ world changed forever.

 He lost both his arms and legs, and he became one of only five soldiers in modern warfare to ever survive quadruple amputee injuries.

 At first, Travis hated his new life.

 He felt ashamed of how he looked, fearful his wife would leave him. Scared his daughter would think he was a monster. He felt out of control, dependent, grieved over what he lost.

 At one point he even wanted to die.

 But somewhere in the midst of his 13 reparative surgeries, Travis decided he could either, in the words of Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption, GET BUSY LIVING, OR GET BUSY DYING.

 Travis’ wife and daughter became his new motivation. He knew he needed to become again the husband and father he’d always been. For their sake—as well as his own.

 Doctors at Walter Reed told him it would take him three long years of rehabilitation.

 Travis attacked it with a vengeance, and did it in 19 months.

 There are still challenges to his new life, of course.

 But today, despite the loss of all four limbs, Travis walks, runs, drives, swims, dances, skydives, mountain bikes, snowboards, and does regular CrossFit workouts.

 He’s out of the army now, highly successful in a new career as a motivational speaker.

 He started his own nonprofit organization, the Travis Millis Foundation, which assists wounded and injured veterans nationwide.

 He and Kelsey are still happily married, more in love than ever.

 And their little daughter, Chloe, absolutely adores her dad.

 This is what Travis would like to say to you:

 Even though I’ve been wounded badly, I don’t think the challenges in my life are any greater than anyone else’s.

 Sometimes after people hear my story they say, “Man, I don’t know if I could ever press forward like that, and overcome challenges like you have,”

 But I say everybody faces challenges in life, big and small. My problems are no greater than yours. Simply put, yours are yours and mine are mine, and we’re all in this together.

 The key is that you’ve got to believe it’s going to get better. Keep going. Keep persevering. You’re going to get through tough times.

 Never give up. Never quit.


Be inspired by Travis’ new book, TOUGH AS THEY COME, by Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton. Available now through, and Barnes & Noble.

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