A veteran quadruple amputee has begun hosting families of injured veterans in a refurbished 16-room estate in Maine for no cost.
Travis Mills, 30, lost all four limbs while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. He awoke on his 25th birthday to the news that he'd become the fourth quadruple amputee in the U.S. military to survive, People reports.
"I told my wife that she should leave me," Travis said, according to the Portland Press Herald. "I thought my daughter was going to think I was a monster."
Instead, his baby daughter was happy to lie on top of her father, and eventually learned to walk alongside him as he underwent a 19-month recovery in a hospital in Maryland. Travis is now able to walk and drive a truck with the assistance of his prosthetic limbs.
Following his recovery, Travis founded the Travis Mills Foundation (TMF) in 2014. According to the foundation's website, its mission is to "support combat injured veterans and their families through long term programs that help these heroic men and women overcome physical obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation."
In 2017, TMF opened an 11,000 square-foot resort for 'recalibrated' veterans to vacation with their families -- entirely for free.
People reports that Travis and his wife, Kelsey, placed the lowest bid on the former estate of cosmetics entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden. The seller believed in their mission and awarded the couple their estate.
With the help of individual and corporate donors, Travis raised $2.75 million to refurbish the estate and redecorate its rooms, ensuring that the design was ADA compliant. An incredible 800 pieces of furniture was supplied by online retailer Wayfair.
"The majority of our donations come from everyday proud Americans," Travis said. "We get letters from grandmas that are 87 that say, 'I don’t have much. Hope this helps with something.'"
TMF's website says that it hopes to operate 40 to 45 weeks out of the year. They plan to host eight families per week in suite-style bedrooms.
Other amenities at the resort include a movie theater, library, spa, children's playroom, golf course, laundromat, and dining and kitchen facilities. There are also planned activities such as kayaking, weather permitting.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the retreat ended its first season in mid-December, when it hosted five veteran families affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It has hosted 88 families since it opened in June.