It's a love-hate relationship. While Glenn and his co-hosts love visiting with Travis Mills, retired United States Army Staff Sergeant and recalibrated warrior, it's a stark reminder of their physical shortcomings.
"We love having him here. He's the author of the book, Tough As They Come. And . . . we actually don't like having him because we always feel like the biggest weenies on the planet," Glenn said Thursday on his radio program.
Travis lost his arms and legs in the service of his country, but you won't hear him playing the victim.
"I go to the CrossFit gym. I really like to socialize a lot," Travis said.
When he's not at the gym, Travis travels the country sharing his inspirational message and helping other wounded war heroes. His bestselling book, Tough As They Come, was released this week in paperback. Travis additionally founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit that benefits and assists wounded and injured veterans and their families.
Read below or watch the clip for answers to these questions:
• Would Travis go back in time and change things if he could?
• Why is Travis thankful to be taking his daughter trick-or-treating?
• What four items must be in a care package for service members overseas?
• Will Glenn, Pat or Jeffy ever make it to the gym?
• Can you get PTSD from watching a TV show?
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: Good friend of ours is back into town. A guy who we had on about a year ago and has a great sense of humor and also has a mission in his life, I think because of what gave him a great sense of humor. Travis Mills is back in. We begin with him, right now.
GLENN: Travis Mills is back into town. We love having him here. He's the author of the book, tough as they come. And we -- we actually don't like having him. Because we always feel like the biggest weenies on the planet.
He's talking about -- he has no arms and no legs. He lost them in the service of his country. And he's just talking about swimming and going to the gym every day and how he listens to us at the gym. And we have arms and legs, and we don't even go to the gym.
PAT: Haven't seen a gym in years.
GLENN: No, uh-uh. I don't even like people named Jim.
PAT: I don't even like to drive by them.
TRAVIS: No, I understand that. And I -- you know, I go when I'm at home. I go to the cross-fit gym. I really like to socialize a lot. They're like, come on, Travis. You got to do stuff. And I'm like, I'm kind of busy talking. So don't think -- you know, I have cool tricks. Like, check these pecks out. You know what I'm saying? I can do some things.
GLENN: You can do that. You got that going for you.
TRAVIS: I'm glad you allowed me to believe back and hang out with you some fine gentlemen.
PAT: I don't know who you're talking about --
GLENN: Yeah, he obviously has no judgment either.
So just recap your story real quick, the story of the book.
GLENN: And your near-death experience, in case people don't know who you are.
TRAVIS: Yeah, so I'm from Michigan originally. My mom and dad had me. I was a middle child. So they had the first one. They were like, not what we want. Second one, perfection. Third one, crap. Not Travis. But I digress.
JEFFY: That's the way it goes.
TRAVIS: After high school, I went to college. My girlfriend said she moved home. I moved home. Found out she had a boyfriend. Joined the military.
My third deployment, my wife and I were doing well. Had a house and everything out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 82nd Airborne Division.
Third deployment came up. I decided I was going to go. I had orders to take me somewhere else. I didn't want to go somewhere else. I went on patrol two months there -- a month and a half into my deployment. You know, hit a bomb. IED. And it ripped off portions of my arms and legs.
At the bicep -- my right arm and right leg, at the knee, disintegrated and gone. Left leg snapped to the bone and left arm was blown out the wrist. But hand was still there. So I hit the ground. I radioed my LT with my left arm. I said, "Hey, six. This is four. Just hit a bomb."
My medic came up to me, started working on me. I told him, leave me alone. He just said, let me do my job. Tourniquets. Operating table. Eventually, 14 hours of surgery. Nine doctors and seven nurses put me back together, I guess in a way or got me stable. Two nurses for nine hours just pumped air into my lungs, keep me alive.
And I made it to Walter Reed on April 17th for the first time. And my wife when I first saw her, she had to sign papers to cut my right leg up higher. It wasn't that Kodak moment you would think. She had to do that. And then the next day, I told Kelsey, she walked in, I said, look, honey, you don't got to do this. Like, this is not the life you chose. I'm not the 6-3, 250-pound behemoth of a good-looking man anymore. You know, and I basically just gave her the out.
She said, "That's not how this works. We're going to do this together." And she also said, "And I want the handicapped parking." So, I mean, I get it. I get it.
PAT: So she really kept you around for Christmas time.
GLENN: She has unbelievable parking spots.
TRAVIS: When she said she was going to stay -- I had a little girl, six months old, who I thought would think I was a monster. But obviously I didn't realize I looked like every single toy she's been given.
TRAVIS: Yeah, short arms, short legs, fuzzy chest. Teddy bear.
But it just came down to a choice. You know, get better. Push forward in life. Learn the difference between reminiscing and dwelling. So I reminisce the past, but I don't dwell on it.
GLENN: What's the difference?
TRAVIS: You know, I reminisce the past. I'm very thankful. I've met a lot of people, a lot of children actually, that never had the ability to have arms and legs. Never had the ability to grow up healthy and strong and to go places. And I did.
And, you know what, I can't change the fact that I got blown up. I can't change the fact that my arms and legs are gone. But what I can do is push forward every day and be thankful for that.
You know, I'm able to speak for my speaking company across the nation because of this book. And the things that it's unlocked for me, the doors it's opened. I'm able to go and tell people about perspective. And it's all about perspective.
You know, my message is never stop. You know, never give up. Never quit. Always keep going.
And I just -- you know, you got to be resilient to things. But when I look back in the past, I can be like, "Oh, well, this sucks. This is miserable. Why would I want this ever?"
But the truth is, I didn't choose it. But I choose to shape my attitude to keep going forward and being positive.
My little girl, I take her to school in the mornings. I hit the gym after that. In between that time, I'm listening to the radio. You know. Yeah. Eh. Eh. You guys.
GLENN: Eh. He's pointing to us. I'm not sure, but I think he's pointing to us.
TRAVIS: Yeah. But, you know, from this book, I'm able to you tell my story in a positive way. I don't sit there and call myself wounded.
GLENN: If you -- if you could --
PAT: What an important message for this victim culture.
TRAVIS: Yeah, I never play the victim.
PAT: That's just unbelievable. Because so many people are victims from words or Halloween costumes.
TRAVIS: I saw it at Target.
PAT: It's gotten that ridiculous now. And here you are, who have gotten blown up literally, and you've chosen to be positive about it.
GLENN: Can I ask you this? And this is a hard question to ask because nobody would ever -- you know, nobody is choosing -- you know what I want -- when I grow up, I want to go to war and have my limbs blown off. So I don't mean it that way.
TRAVIS: Oh, I understand.
GLENN: But knowing who you are and where you are now, do you regret that day?
TRAVIS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I get asked that all the time. You know, would you go back in time with all the great things you're doing? I say absolutely I would.
TRAVIS: I would love to take my kid and throw her in the air and catch her.
PAT: Heck, yeah.
GLENN: How would you be different today?
TRAVIS: I would probably be an E-7. Maybe be working on E-8 in the military. I'd probably have two more kids. We're working on kids now. I'm fully capable. Still works, if anybody is wondering.
JEFFY: No judging. We're not judging.
GLENN: Nobody was questioning that.
TRAVIS: Some people do. They wonder.
GLENN: Don't really need to know.
TRAVIS: But, you know, I would still be a family man. I'd still be taking care of business. This has just allowed me to take a negative, turn it into a positive --
GLENN: So you believe that the core of who you are now was already there?
TRAVIS: I was the same person. You know, my wife is happy. And also she thought there probably could be some characteristic traits changed a little bit. But I'm the same person that I was before.
And, really, when it boils down to everything -- you know, there's so many men and women that have lost their lives for this country. And I tell the story of my buddy Francis. Went by Frankie. He was a really close friend of mine. And he didn't make it home. He had a daughter that was four. Now she's going on eight. He had a wife of four years, Christine. And, you know what, he doesn't get to take his daughter trick-or-treating.
On Monday, I'm taking my daughter trick-or-treating. He doesn't get to take his wife on dates. My wife and I go on dates all the time. And my parents are very close to me. His mother would give anything -- his mother would have anything to have him come back. And, you know what, he's not coming back. And it's sad, but it's true.
So why would I want to live my life down and out, you know, dwelling on the past and angry, when I could be out there and changing people's perspective on life, letting them know, life goes on. And think about the lives lost.
GLENN: What do you say to people, who -- they don't even have to be in your situation, they don't even have to go to war, there are a lot of people who are just -- and I'm not talking about clinical depression. I'm talking about just they're feeling sorry for themselves. And they might have good reason to feel sorry for themselves.
TRAVIS: Well, and that's a tricky conversation. Because people see me, and they always think, "Well, jeez, I thought had problems, but looking at you, you know, how did you get through?" And I tell people, it's very clear actually in my book, in the author's note. I said, first thing, if you served, thank you for your service. I did not not serve more than anybody else. I had one bad day at work. Case of the Mondays. We've all been there. But I don't think I served more than anybody else. I raised my right hand and took the oath.
The next line, it basically just states, I don't think my problems are more than anybody else's. You know, we have all our things that we go through. We have family members that deal with cancer. We have things that we go through.
And if my story helps get people through it or past what they're going through, great. If I can be a positive light or mentor for people, that's what I try to do. But I will never sit there and say, "Well, that's a dumb thing to be upset about, or that's stupid." I get a lot of parents who reach out off my website, and they want to have me talk to their family members and like get them through. I do more of a hard truth campaign. I'm more of like -- a lot of PTSD counseling. I don't have PTSD, fortunately. But a lot of gentlemen I serve with and people I know --
GLENN: Hold it. Hold it. There are people that are claiming now they have PTSD now from watching a TV show. You were blown up, lost your limbs, you don't have PTSD?
TRAVIS: No, I don't regret anything I did overseas. I don't regret anything I did overseas. If anybody does get the book -- not to sell it too hard. Tough As They Come. TravisMills.org. No, I'm kidding. But if anybody does get the book, you're going to find out, yes, I've killed people. Yes, I've put friends in body bags. Yes, I've had every single thing that people could claim for PTSD that would affect them later on. But I don't.
I know what my direction in life is. You know, the book is faith-based. So it's just -- it took me a while to get back to that, about two or three weeks, I guess.
But, really, you know, that is a long time. Because you can be a believer all you want, until the day it happens, and then you're like, "What the heck. Am I a bad person?" And then you have to get back on track. You know, bad things happen to good people. But for PTSD --
GLENN: So when you're -- when you're on the phone with these parents and they want you to say, what, to their --
TRAVIS: A lot of people just want to know, like how can I get them motivated to get out of the couch? If I talk to this person or that's going through something, I'm like, "Look, why are you letting one day or one week or one month hold up your whole entire life? Why dwell on the past?" Think about the lives that are lost. Think about the people that would give anything to have the opportunity to still live in, you know, the greatest country in the world, with the democracies and the freedoms that we have.
Why not get out there and go forward in life? Why be the victim? Why dwell on it?
You will never see me the sob story. I will never ever be the one that is like, you know, oh, poor me, pity me. I don't want to be the sob story. I don't have people pity me. I don't even call myself wounded. I mean, I used to be. I have awesome scars. Ladies, I'm married. But I have awesome scars. And, you know what, I'm a recalibrated warrior, if you want to call me anything. But I go by Travis. And I'm just thankful to get out there.
I mean, if anybody wants to know my story, like I said, it's just TravisMills.org. And we appreciate just being be able to push the ball forward and keep moving.
GLENN: Now, you're going around and you're speaking. And one of the things that you're trying to work on is the Maine Chance Lodge veterans retreat. What is that?
TRAVIS: Well, we had the ability to start a foundation. After being at Walter Reed, which is a phenomenal medical facility, we saw all these 501(c)(3)s come in and do some wonderful things. And Kelsey and I said, you know what, let's just start a foundation. We'll just send care packages overseas.
If you have loved ones overseas, send them these four things: Orbit gum, not sweet mint. Okay? Orbit lasts the longest. It's just a fact.
Peppered beef jerky, okay? Peppered beef jerky. Peanut butter M&M's and gummy bears.
GLENN: Wait. Why those two?
TRAVIS: Those are delicious. Everything on that --
GLENN: All right. I thought maybe there was a heat thing.
TRAVIS: No, no. Can you say any of those things are not good?
GLENN: No, I was wondering.
STU: Oh, M&M's are tremendous. I mean, they are delicious. Where are they? Why don't we have some?
TRAVIS: Oh, yeah. Wonderful.
But my wife and I wanted to give back. We thought that would be a good option. Well, then a gentleman from Maine said that he wanted to make friends out, and they started the Travis Mills Project. It would be an umbrella under his foundation, and I would be the face of it, and that would be it.
So he brought some people to Maine, showed them how to kayak, canoe, go boating, swimming, build that network. Say, hey, thanks for your service. Don't live life on the sidelines. You know, here's a network of people you can rely on and lean on, and you can still do things with your family adaptively.
So it went so well, I started raising funds all across Maine and the nation. And we got to the point where it was too much for this foundation to hold. And they said, "Well, this is too big. So we're going to have to just let it fizzle out." I said, "No. No, we're not. So my foundation, which was only care packages, decided we were going to take over."
Now it's a $2.7 million project to get the building done. We were fortunate to raise over a million dollars last year. And this will be done next summer. And we'll be hosting families.
We bring out six to 10 families, up to 35 to 40 people a week. We're going to do five weeks next year. And we're going to bring them from throughout the nation and just bring them in and say, look, I know there's not a lot of people in your community that looks like you. I get that. But here's a network of people to lean on. We appreciate your service. Come on out to Maine. Vacation land is where I live. We show them how to kayak. I go kayaking. I go canoeing. I go swimming. I go tubing. And we do all this stuff. And we bring them out and say, "Thanks for your service." And it's not just the soldiers or the military members that are going through this. It's the families.
GLENN: Have you ever faced anything since the accident that freaked you out of your mind?
TRAVIS: Well, I mean my next goal is to go great white cage diving. Great white shark cave diving because they can't bite my arms and legs off.
GLENN: Right. There's not that much left.
TRAVIS: I will tell you, I wasn't always this positive. It took me a little while where I could look in a mirror at myself after this explosion, you know. But nothing really scares me, you know.
GLENN: So first time you're thrown into the water, you're helpless if you're thrown into the water for the first time, I would imagine. And, you know, you're in a canoe. You don't -- it's not crossed your mind that, crap, I lose these devices and I'm done.
TRAVIS: Well, I mean, I have a life vest. I'm not going to sit there and tell you I don't have a life vest that I wear. My biggest fear is actually water I can't see the bottom of. So fish scare the -- I mean, I was on the lake all summer in Maine. And I jump in and I have to be brave because my little girl, who is five, is sitting there next to me swimming, having a great time. And I can't let her see that I'm so afraid something is going to come bite me. But, I mean, it's like the biggest fear I have.
STU: Yeah, sometimes they like bump into you, underwater. And that's creepy -- and that's creepy man.
TRAVIS: No, it better not. You'll see me walk on water if that happens.
But, you know, it's just about coming together and doing something great. Saying thank you for your service. We really appreciate it. My foundation, I'm the president, okay? We have a great board. A great board of people, and we're never going to take a dollar. We're never going to pay ourselves. It's all voluntarily. People can see my 990s (phonetic), and they can understand that this is one of the A-rated nonprofits. And we're going to keep that driving forward. Obviously, we're taking donations and funds. We're building a pool right now. We need an elevator to go into the building. Because (unintelligible) -- from 1929, it was massive. And we had to -- this undertaking. The construction.
PAT: So how do people donate?
TRAVIS: Just TravisMills.org. Foundation tab. Again, I'm not trying to like push that agenda, but at the same time, please check us out. You know, the book is on the New York Times bestseller. It's doing fairly well. We just had that paperback come out two days ago. The cover on it is my daughter and me. You know, my daughter, Chloe and I, we're best friends, and I'm very proud of that.
GLENN: Nothing better.
TRAVIS: What's that?
GLENN: Nothing better.
TRAVIS: No, no. My little girl, she's awesome. She woke up this morning, and we were playing hide-and-seek in the hotel room. I mean, big hotel room, but we were trying. We were trying.
STU: Just a general charity question, how many 6-foot oil paintings of yourself have you purchased with charity dollars?
STU: Interesting approach.
TRAVIS: You know, we're almost to the point where -- no, I'm kidding. It's not -- I'm 17 miles away. My house is 17 miles away from this place. I'll never be a guest. I will go out there. I will hang out for the day. I will meet these families. I will encourage them to do better. But it's not about me being out there and taking advantage. I'm not doing this for myself.
So I might go out there to introduce myself on the first day. And I might have meetings and traveling. I mean, next week, I'm in Minnesota to Charlotte, to Chicago. I'll be speaking for Allstate in Chicago on Veterans Day. Then I'm back to Maine, to California.
But, you know, I want to make sure I greet these families. We appreciate what you're doing. Enjoy. Please, you know, this is all about being able to get back with your families. Learn how to do things adaptively. And take this knowledge and abilities back where you live. And, you know, I might -- we'll see what my future holds. Probably politics, I would imagine.
TRAVIS: I will tell you, I love what's going on right now. Isn't it exciting?
GLENN: Do you?
STU: You can have it.
GLENN: It's all yours, brother. Congratulations, it's all years.
STU: It would be nice to have somebody who would actually be trustworthy running. So please do. We need somebody good to run.
GLENN: Please do.
TRAVIS: Yeah. Because it's not an exciting time for politics, in the most weird way.
GLENN: Yeah. No, no.
TRAVIS: It's the most awkwardly exciting, weirdest time ever.
GLENN: No, no.
TRAVIS: Oh, you'll never find a political post on my Facebook page, no way. I'm never choosing sides. I got to stay right neutral. Because the foundation -- I don't want to hurt my foundation because of one side or the other.
TRAVIS: And that's the world we live in.
STU: It's too important.
GLENN: Travis, I'm glad to have you on again. TravisMills.org. TravisMills.org, if you want to help. And grab his book, Tough As They Come. TravisMills.org. Thanks for coming by.
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