ROME, Maine — A retreat for combat-injured veterans that was created by a Maine man who lost all four limbs in Afghanistan is wrapping up its first season with a winter session.

The Travis Mills Foundation is hosting five veterans and their families from hurricane-damaged Florida and Texas for a snowy holiday that kicked off Wednesday.

Mills created the retreat to serve as a place where veterans and their families can get together with others who have experienced disabilities. Mills said he wants to show veterans they still can do things with their families and not be sidelined by their disabilities.

“We are looking forward to a few days of rest and fun as a family with others who understand our daily struggles,” said Brien Costello of Eustis, Florida, who came with his wife and four kids.

Mills attended the kickoff Wednesday night that included a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

There’s no more kayaking or tubing in the lake because of the season, but there’s still plenty to do, including cookie making, pottery painting and yoga.


The Travis Mills Foundation’s facility at the former home of cosmetics magnate Elizabeth Arden has served 88 families, all free of charge, in its inaugural season.

Daniel Burgess of Cape Coral, Florida, said he was looking forward to “the positive impact of other service members and their families.”

“Also to get away from our norm and reconnect as a family. Plus my wife and daughters were all born and raised in Cleveland, so they are excited to see snow and winter again,” said Burgess, who was accompanied by his wife and two teenage daughters.

Mills is a busy guy. In addition to launching the retreat, he became a father for a second time, welcoming a son, Dax, into the world. He’s also been busy with a business partner, running a dock and motel on Cobbossee Lake in East Winthrop.

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