Women Are an Important Part of the Travis Mills Foundation Community

Women Are an Important Part of the Travis Mills Foundation Community

On April 10, 2012, US Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol, losing portions of both legs and both arms. He is one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries. 

In 2013, Travis and his wife, Kelsey, founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to benefit and assist post-9/11 veterans who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service. The veterans and their families receive an all-expenses paid, barrier-free vacation in Maine where they participate in adaptive activities, and bond with other veteran families in Maine’s great outdoors. 

Travis is quick to point out that he doesn’t make this happen all on his own.  

I’m pretty mediocre at the end of the day, but I have a wonderful staff and team around me,” he said. “They really work hard and we have over 1,000 volunteers who come out and do everything. I’m so grateful for that. It’s really a community.”  

Recently, Mary Barstow caught up with four of the women who help make the Travis Mills Foundation a force for good.   

For more details, please visit travismillsfoundation.org 

Molly Lovell-Keeley, Communications and Marketing Manager 

Mary Barstow:  

Thank you so much for all the help you’ve been giving us to make this story about the foundation happen.  

Molly Lovell-Keeley:  

It’s funny. When you sent that email, I was like, “Oh my God. Yes. He does have mostly women running his organization.”  

 

Mary:  

So, tell me, where were you originally from?  

Molly: 

I’m originally from Biddeford. I grew up in Biddeford and I still live here in Biddeford.   

 

Mary:  

And how did you come to work here?  

Molly:  

Before this, I was working for Maine Veterans’ Homes, and I really liked the idea of helping veterans. And then I saw this position open up and it just seemed more in my wheelhouse because it was geared toward post-9/11 veterans. And when I think of veterans, I think all my friends who went to the war in 2001 after 9/11. And that’s what inspired me, so I just jumped at the chance. Everything felt right about it.  

 

Mary:  

It was a well-established place when you got there. How did you find it? What was your impression?  

Molly:  

It’s funny. There was a big gala last month for the foundation that raised a lot of money, and we were all there during the day, preparing for it. And one of the girls drives up on the golf cart and she said, “What’s up, fam?” – as in family, and I’m thinking, ”Oh my God, I love this. I love this so much.”  

 

Mary:  

You bring in families from all over the country. What do you notice?  

Molly: 

I noticed a togetherness. We’re welcome to go have lunch at that retreat when we want, even when families are there. And so, we come in and everybody’s sitting at the table, and I was just sitting there eating, looking around and I’m like, “Everybody’s just, together.”  

Mary:  

Do you have many women veterans who come?  

Molly:  

There was a woman earlier this summer who caught my eye. Her name is Amanda. She had come straight from Walter Reed, and she just stood out to me for being a woman veteran, and for also still being able to come and have a wonderful time and be catered to as just a single person.   

 

Mary:  

You host families. How often?  

Molly:  

Yeah, so this summer, we hosted families for eight weeks and we host eight families per week. The families range from being a single person to husband, wife, and however big their family is. Then after that summer program is done, we host the caregivers of veterans. A lot of times it’s the wives, sometimes it’s the parents.  

 

Mary:  

How do you gather your funding for this?  

Molly:  

It is just pure fundraising. We recently had a golf tournament that raised $40,000 for the foundation. You know, people are willing to go above and beyond for Travis and the foundation. And I should mention our volunteers, too. We have a base of about 500 volunteers and they are the heart and soul of the organization.  

Mary:  

Now, do these volunteers all live in Maine?  

Molly: 

No, some of them live out of state and they take their own personal vacations to come up here. They pay for their own travel to come up here and volunteer.  

 

Mary:  

And, honestly from the bottom of my heart, thank you for standing by all these people that just really need it so badly, and it’s wonderful.  

Molly:  

They do. Again, I just feel so fortunate to be serving them. Thank you for this opportunity.  

Brandy Dupper-Macy, Director of Development 

Mary Barstow:  

So, Brandy, are you originally from Maine?  

Brandy Dupper-Macy:  

I’m originally from California. I met my husband in the air force and he was from Maine, so that is how I got here. 

 

Mary:  

So, tell me about what you do here and how you got involved.  

Brandy:  

Sure. I’ve been here since November, 2018, and I’m the director of development. I do the fundraising events and the donor work.  

 

Mary:  

Are you a veteran?  

Brandy:  

I’m an air force veteran. I served from 2000 to 2006. I joined a week and a day after my 18th birthday … got on the bus for basic and did my six years.  

 

Mary:  

And where were you stationed?  

Brandy: 

I was an air traffic controller, so I went to Alamogordo, New Mexico, and then I cross trained into public affairs. So, I was public affairs specialist and eventually chief of marketing at Davis-Monthan Air Force base in Tucson, Arizona.  

 

Mary:  

Thank you for your service! Did you know Travis before you got involved here?  

Brandy:  

Nope. It was something that my husband and I had talked about before I saw the job listing. I knew that I would love to work for a veterans’ organization. When this opportunity came up, I was so excited!  

 

Mary:  

And what has it done for you?  

Brandy:  

Oh gosh. It’s incredible to be able to give back to my fellow brothers and sisters who sacrificed a lot more than I did. I’m married to a service member. My brother was in the army, so for me, I’m very aware of how lucky we were to have all made it home safely.  

 

Mary:  

Was it frightening to you when 9/11 happened?  

Brandy:  

Oh my, yes. I was an air traffic controller then. I went to sleep one night and then I woke up and it went from like a normal base to tankers and barriers and all sorts of crazy procedures. There was no doubt that our world had changed overnight, for sure.  

 

Mary:  

And the one good thing that I can remember coming from it was the country seemed to be really together.  

Brandy:  

Yes. I think that was the most beautiful part of being in the service prior to 9/11. I remember it was beautiful to leave the base. There were flags waving and cars honking.  

 

Mary:  

People love veterans and love that you served all of us. I have such admiration for you and anybody that has done that.  

Brandy:  

I really do think, especially here, I’ve definitely seen the love, and it’s really awesome.  

 

Mary:  

Now, what do you think of Travis? He has to be inspiring every day.  

Brandy: 

Yes, absolutely. I think we all have our invisible wounds, right? But for him to have such visible wounds and to have such an optimistic outlook about it? He’s the most energetic, loud person … so lively. It’s very motivating and inspiring. You want to be better and not feel so sorry for yourself. It’s definitely a perspective check. It definitely is humbling in that way.  

 

Mary:  

Do you plan on staying here now? You came from California to Maine. How was that adjustment?  

Brandy:  

Oh, gosh. Well, when we moved here, I went from California to Tucson, to 300 people. Very jarring. I’ve been here since 2006, so I’ve adjusted. I do love Maine. And I feel like giving back to this beautiful state has been humbling, and I’m so glad to be here.  

 

Mary:  

Do you have children?  

Brandy:  

We have two boys. My oldest is a senior this year and we have a 13-year-old son, as well. 

 

Mary:  

Wow. And you work full time and it’s not exactly in your back yard, so you are quite devoted to this organization.  

Brandy:  

I am. Yeah.  

 

Mary:  

Now, I have one last question. Air traffic control is a stressful job. Do you ever miss that intensity?  

Brandy:  

Yeah. I loved that job. When I joined, there was a high washout rate. And for whatever reason, you had to pass both tower and radar, so people washed out a lot. To make it through as the only female in my class was incredible.  

 

Mary:  

The only female in your class?  

Brandy:  

I was. And we had a sister class and there was one female in that class, and we had started out with several. And so, to be 18 and doing this incredibly hard job where it’s notoriously stressful and high intensity was incredible. I loved it.  

 

Mary:  

Do you fly planes?  

Brandy:  

I do not.  

 

Mary:  

Not yet, right?  

Brandy: 

Not yet. Maybe in my free time, one day when I’m not commuting so far away.  

 

Mary:  

You are really committed.  

Brandy:  

Yes, and thank you so much, Mary, for sharing your time today. When Molly said you wanted to interview me, I was like, “I’m just a girl just trying to help my fellow veterans.”  

 

Mary:  

Yes, that and a lot more! Thank you, so very much.  

 

Kelly Roseberry, Chief Operating Officer 

 

Mary Barstow:  

Please introduce yourself to our readers. Are you originally from Maine?  

Kelly:  

I am not. My dad was in the army, so we moved quite a bit. And my husband’s a retired soldier, as well.  

 

Mary:  

So how did you come to work with Travis Mills?  

Kelly: 

I am a physical therapist, and I was working in the amputee clinic at Walter Reed Hospital when Travis was injured. So, I met him and Kelsey at work. I had always been involved in adaptive sports with other organizations, so when he decided to start the foundation, he just sort of kept being there as I was looking for what my next step was, and I realized that this was one of those rare opportunities.  

 

Mary:  

You worked with him as a patient?  

Kelly: 

I wasn’t his primary therapist, but I worked with him often.  

 

Mary:  

So, you were there from the beginning, obviously.  

Kelly:  

Travis said it was going to be a summer retreat and he wanted me to run it, basically, to find the people, to organize the activities. I had run a camp for kids with amputations, and I knew the logistics. And it went from being summer to year-round, very quickly.  

 

Mary:  

How has it changed you?  

Kelly:  

It’s very rewarding. It just makes me very grateful. I’m very grateful that I get to do something that I really love, something that gives back. My husband also works for the foundation, and we can bring our daughter to work on the weekends.  

 

Mary:  

You moved your whole family for this position?  

Kelly:  

This offered us a quality of life DC could never have, and we’re able to raise our family in a place where we have the time to do it.  

 

Mary:  

Had you ever visited Maine?  

Kelly:  

Yes. We had been here a couple of times. Actually, the first time we came up, my husband and I were just dating. And I was afraid he wasn’t going to come back home, he loved Maine so much. We both loved the snow. I’ve been an adaptive ski instructor, and he snowboards.  

 

Mary:  

Tell me how you’ve seen the foundation grow since you’ve been here.  

Kelly:  

All the funds are from private citizens and organizations. We don’t take any federal funding. So, it’s all a grassroots, massive effort from our whole team working with a lot of caring Americans who believe in our mission. And it was a matter of recognizing that the need is greater than anyone realized.  

 

Mary:  

I interviewed Travis, and I’ll be honest with you. He brought me to tears.  

Kelly:  

He does that sometimes.  

 

Mary:  

How has he affected your life?  

Kelly:  

His enthusiasm is contagious. He comes in with guns blazing. Whether it’s to the hospital during rehab, or into a meeting, or into a very somber moment at the retreat, he just comes in and brings this level of energy and excitement.  

 

Mary:  

So, what are the plans for the future?  

Kelly:  

For example, we just broke ground on, we’re building a nearly 10,000-square-foot health and wellness center at the retreat that will offer an indoor pool, gym, massage rooms, and a commercial grade laundry, which will allow us to do so much, including being able to operate regardless of season or the weather.  

 

Mary:  

Everyone is so proud of what you do.  

Kelly:  

In four years, we’ve been able to assist over 2,000 people. We’re excited about that.  

 

Mary:  

And I’m sure the families and the children, just being with others must be so helpful.  

Kelly:  

Absolutely. It’s probably the one place that they’re able to spend time in their year where being different is normal. And if your dad has to put legs on, or your mom has to get in a wheelchair, it doesn’t matter here.  

 

Mary:  

And I would also like to know, how did you find a husband who is so involved with all of this?  

Kelly:  

My husband is also an amputee. I met him at the hospital. And he was getting ready to retire, so he was also trying to figure out what his next step was going to be. And he has a servant’s heart, just like the rest of us. And so, to come to a place where we are able to work together and do something that we love for a greater purpose, was just was a no brainer.   

 

Mary:  

So, let’s back up that story a little bit. Your husband was a patient?  

Kelly:  

Yeah. So, he became an amputee in 2005, and continued his active-duty service, and was injured again in 2015. So, he was spending some time at Walter Reed. That’s where I met him.  

He was not a patient of mine, but my family lives close by and I always brought stragglers home for the holidays. And so, I had three or four people coming for 4th of July one year. He came, and that’s where I met him a little bit more. And just through various trips to Fort Bragg and a little bit of fate, the rest is history.  

 

Mary:  

That’s the best love story ever. And you have children?  

Kelly:  

We have a one-year-old daughter. She just turned one on 9/11.  

 

Mary: Amazing again. You’re amazing!  

 

Hannah Flannery, Head Chef 

 

Mary Barstow:  

What do you do for the Travis Mills Foundation?  

Hannah Flannery:  

I’m the head chef. 

Mary:  

Oh, my favorite girl. You get to do all the good stuff.  
Hannah:  

That’s right.  

Mary:  

Are you originally from Maine? 
 Hannah:  

I am.  

Mary:  

And may I ask where in Maine you grew up?  
Hannah:  

West Sumner on 219 on your way between somewhere and nowhere? No, I’m just kidding. In Western Maine towards West Paris, Bethel area. 

Mary:  

How long have you been at the foundation?  
Hannah:  

I started volunteering here in 2017, and then I got hired as a chef in 2019. 

Mary:  

And did you go to school to be a chef or are you just a natural chef?  
Hannah:  

I am, I was accepted at culinary school, but I never went. I’ve cooked in many different restaurants since I was 16. 

Mary:  

I believe you’re almost born with this ability sometimes. You just really get it. And a lot of people go to culinary schools and they can learn the techniques, but they don’t sometimes get it.   
Hannah:  

I grew up with a mom that cooked everything from scratch and learned everything from her. 

Mary:  

So, you grew up and it’s just in your DNA.  
Hannah:  

You could say that. 

Mary:  

And how long have you been there now?  
Hannah:  

Since 2019. I was hired in late summer and then of course, March of 2020, everything shut down. And we went to virtual programming because we couldn’t bring people in. I did some virtual cooking classes with the veterans and their families for that. Then we started another program for post-traumatic stress. That’s all we could run for a few months until we could bring veterans and families back in. 

Mary:  

You just knew of the foundation, and you wanted to volunteer, that’s how you started?  
Hannah: 

I live close by and my cousin tipped me off to it because she’s a big fan of Travis. She said, “They’re opening this and they need help in the kitchen. You’re perfect for that.” 

Mary:  

It has turned into a wonderful career for you.  
Hannah: 

It has 

Mary:  

How has it affected you, working with all these families and seeing what the foundation does?  
Hannah:  

I think it’s just amazing to see the families. These are all recalibrated, injured vets and their families and to see them all come together in our environment, and just to see how normal life can be for them. I mean, some people are like Travis, they have lost their limbs. They’re in wheelchairs. But they get around and they chase after their little kids and it’s just amazing to watch the whole experience. 

Mary: That’s just wonderful. I hope that you don’t mind sharing a recipe or two in the magazine. I’d love to put a recipe of yours in.  
Hannah Flannery:  

That sounds good, thank you!  

Mexican Street Corn Dip/Salsa 

6-8 ears of corn (or 2-3 cups fresh or frozen, thawed)  

½ teaspoon Chili Lime Rub (Weber brand is a good one)  

Oil for coating  

1 medium-size fresh jalapeno or poblano pepper  

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, optional  

12 oz  Queso Fresco cheese or 1-1 ½ cups, coarsely crumbled  

2-3 Tablespoons mayonnaise  

1 cup ranch dressing  

1-2 fresh limes  

2-3 Tablespoons Chili Lime Rub  

 

Step 1- Heat your grill to medium high. On a sheet pan, lightly oil ears of corn. Sprinkle with the chili lime rub to cover lightly all over. Place corn and jalapeno pepper on the grill. Char corn and pepper lightly on all sides, 2-3 minutes a side depending on heat of the grill. Remove and set aside to cool. Wrap pepper with foil until it cools.  

Step 2-Chop cilantro and set aside. Crumble cheese into bigger pieces and set aside.   

Step 3-In a small dish, add ranch dressing, zest and juice of one lime (approx. 2-4 Tablespoons juice), and chili lime rub. Whisk until well blended. Add mayo and blend.  

Step 4- Slice corn off cobs into a large bowl. Peel outer layer of pepper, de-seed and remove stem. Dice the rest. Add pepper, cilantro, cheese, and dressing to corn. Mix until well blended.  Enjoy!!  

 



 

 

 

 

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