Seeing The Travis Mills Foundation Retreat Firsthand
As many of you know, I attended the Grand Opening of the Travis Mills Foundation Retreat in Rome, Maine on June 25. I returned on Aug 15 so I could meet the veterans and families firsthand.
There were 8 veterans, all amputees and representing the Army, Air Force and Marines, and their families. Most had little ones anywhere from 7 months to 5 years. What I found was a group that had bonded and were having fun kayaking, horseback riding, doing adaptive martial arts, going on boat rides, etc . They were positive, honest about their injuries and their recovery, less stressed(,who wouldn’t be in the amazing location? ),dedicated to serving this country and proud that they had, and would go back tomorrow if they could, taking care of their families in the best way possible and thankful that they were able to work, for those who could, and had a new sense of appreciation for what really matters. However, as one wife said to me, “When he was first injured we were so thankful that he was alive and we put all our energy into getting him well. Now that he has recovered as fully as he can,we have gone back to complaining about the very things we said wouldn’t bother us anymore but with every day worries and stresses, that’s what happens as you move on to your new normal.”
BUT what I noticed most was the resilience of the wives. They had to deal with so much-caring for a loved one who had been seriously wounded, young, children and their needs, hospital stays for long periods of time, doctors, bills, rent, little income, etc. And like their husbands or significant others, they were very young-too young to see the worst war and all that came with it and deal with it. BUT they stayed the course and didn’t run, didn’t leave. As another wife said to me, ”It’s been a real struggle and a challenge and he’s been a handful.” I can only imagine. “And nothing I ever thought we would be facing. We had a whole other life planned but things changed the day he was injured.”
These wives are the ones we should also have tremendous respect for. They quietly do what they have to do to keep their families together and seek no recognition. They have loved these men sometimes before they even met them and have proven to be warriors as well fiercely protecting him and their children. As one veteran commented, ”I love and respect the Hell out of what she has done for me. I couldn’t have made it without her. Believe me she goes to war every day having to deal with me”.
Dinner was wild with families around a big table. The chef from Michael Jordan’s restaurant came to cook lobsters and all the fixings. A feast for sure.
It was an afternoon and evening I won’t soon forget. Operation Hat Trick has been on board with the Travis Mills Foundation since Day One. And as the Executive Director, Lynn Harvey, said to me, ”Without OHT,we would not be here. You met Travis when he was at Walter Reed, attended and helped at his first camp, and made us believe we could do this project. Then you donated “legitimate” money to us making us believe WE could be legitimate. Without OHT, we would not be here today.” SO happy we have made a difference. It’s what OHT tries to do EVERY DAY!
Find out more about Operation Hat Trick at www.operationattrick.org
Operation Hat Trick
Pictured: Operation Hat Trick Founder and CEO Dot Sheehan and Chip Miller, chef from Michael Jordan’s restaurant
The Founder’s Blog is a regular feature on the Operation Hat trick website. This blog will give you information and recount stories of our journey to help those in need. To read our most recent blog and find archived blog posts, please visit our “Founder’s Blog” page.