175: Never Give Up, Never Quit… Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast, four days before his twenty-fifth birthday

October 30, 2020

Travis Mill

Did today’s guest Travis Mills grow up with his glass-is-half-full positive mentality? “Yeah, I’m pretty sure my parents called it stubbornness. It got me in trouble a lot. But I’ve always been the same way that I am today, going forward with life after everything that happened to me. The best compliment that I get and the most organic one that they give me is, ‘Wow Travis. You are the same person. I didn’t think you were going to come out of it the same.” 

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Travis Mills, Former U.S Army Staff Sergeant, President of Travis Mills Group, Travis Mills Foundation, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Veterans Advocate, and Public Speaker, about his unwavering desire to achieve his goals. “I was always on sports teams. So there was that camaraderie. You had to go that extra mile, and do that extra rep, and go the extra hour, and workouts, and things like that just to achieve the goal. How my motto came around, I was actually doing recovery at the hospital and the occupational therapist asked me if I wanted to take a break, and I said, ‘I am never going to stop. I’m never going to quit.’ She said, ‘That was a silly question, wasn’t it?,’ and I said, ‘Yes it was.”

What You Will Learn:

What was the drive for Travis Mills to go into the military? “I realised I didn’t like school. It wasn’t for me. My dad was in the Army. My grandpa was in the Navy. A lot of my family members were in the service, and I thought, let me take a look at this. Then I got talking more and more, and I got really excited about the idea of the Army and the Airborne Infantry, and the signing bonus, and all of that. I had bills to pay. I also had to try something different. I didn’t want to live at home. No offense to my parents. I love them very much. But I want to get out and do my own thing.” 

What is the whole objective when you sign up for the Airborne Infantry? “Airbourne was started in World War II. It was you can basically be anywhere in the world in 18 hours. We are supposed to be anywhere in the world and then you are supposed to be ready to jump into combat so that you can get behind enemy lines or do whatever and jump, and hit the ground running and they called it Light Infantry because you are not in tanks. You are not in vehicles. You jump in with a rucksack and your weapon and you just go into the battle.” 

Travis Mills explains what happened on the day of his accident in Afghanistan. “I set my backpack down on an IED. It was about a 120-pound backpack and it set off the bomb and when it went off it took my right arm and right leg off automatically.They actually never found those pieces of me. Then the left side of my body, my left arm and my left leg were kind of there, and I don’t know. I got thrown to the ground, rolled over, and saw the aftermath of what happened. My metic and my platoon sergeant started working on me and I told them don’t worry about it. You are not going to save me. They went ahead and worked on me.”

What was going through Travis Mills’ mind after sustaining his injury? “Actually I watched a lot of war movies. I still do to this day. I love them. The only thing I saw in my head was the movie Saving Private Ryan, when the medic gets shot in the stomach and he cries out for his mom and he begs not to die, and says, ‘I don’t want to die.’ He starts yelling for his mom, you know? I’m like, my guys will never see that. I always exuded confidence. I led from the front. never showed fear. So, when I got blown up, I was just like, it is what it is. Whatever happens, happens. I realised, nothing I was going to do right in that moment was going to change the outcome of what was going to happen.” 

What “The only reason I woke up in the middle of the night sweating is because I had the meat sweats from smoking meat. I ate too much. No, I don’t suffer from PTSD. People always wonder if I am lying or how can that be. I have shot people. I have killed people. I have blown people up with grenades. I have watched buddies die. I couldn’t tell you why it hasn’t affected me. It doesn’t bother me. I think the more crude sense of humor is, the first thing you feel when you shoot somebody is the recoil of your rifle, and that is just kind of how it is. I was there to do a job. I did my job, and I can separate the two. I can separate Afghanistan from my home life. I have a wife and two kids, and life goes on.” 

Life After the Injury

 What “Nope, I had 19 months recovery at Walter Reade, and then they discharged me and I went to work out with a personal trainer for a little bit. I need to get back in the gym if that helps. This whole COVID thing. But, no, I live a pretty normal life. I own four businesses, either solely or partnerships and then I also run a big nonprofit up here in Maine. So, life goes on. What are you going to do?”

Travis Mills Foundation

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Travis Mills t, “I thought the only reason I want to get better is for my wife and my daughter. So, I might as well figure out how to help people. At Walter Reade, there are so many people doing awesome things. You want to start giving back some way, some shape, some form. We started the Travis Mills Foundation and we were doing care packages, and then we decided to bring families out to Maine that had been to a physical injury, a paralyzation, amputation, spinal cord injury, something along those lines due to service, not necessarily combat, but service-related.” 

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