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Quadruple-Amputee Veteran, Who’s “Just a Guy With Scars,” Is Next President’s Lecture Series Speaker

By Maria Charalambous

He earned many titles and ranks in the Army, but "quadruple amputee" wasn't one he planned for.

Travis Mills is one of only five surviving quad-amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in overcoming adversity, the retired U.S. Army staff sergeant from the 82nd Airborne hopes his story can inspire others in challenging situations. He describes himself as "just a guy with scars."

Mills, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir "Tough as They Come," will speak at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Big Blue Room at Old Dominion University's Ted Constant Convocation Center as part of the President's Lecture Series.

Mills will be the President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence speaker. The Village Bookstore on Monarch Way will have "Tough as They Come" for sale (though there will be no book signing) at the event, which is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so please RSVP at this link.

Mills, whose motto is "never give up, never quit," will discuss his fight for survival and his odds-defying physical and spiritual struggle to rebuild his life.

Mills' story inspired the documentary "Travis: A Soldier's Story," which played in theaters nationwide. It also has been featured on local and national news, including Fox News, CNN and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Mills' story is being adapted into a movie directed by Sylvester Stallone and starring Stallone and Adam Driver.

During his road to recovery, Mills and his wife, Kelsey, founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization that benefits and assists post-9/11 veterans who were injured in active duty or from their service. Veterans and their families receive all-expenses-paid trips to Maine where they participate in adaptive activities and bond with other veterans and their families.

The Travis Mills Group LLC was started later. Through this organization he consults with and speaks to companies and organizations nationwide about overcoming life's challenges.

"I've been very fortunate to be able to tell people my story," Mills told the Dallas Morning News in 2015. "I thought this book can really benefit a lot of people. I can tell people, 'Look, I'm not wounded. I'm not a wounded warrior. I'm just a guy with scars. I live life every day. I don't dwell on my injuries.'"

Mills said the book is not just about the military or his injuries, sustained when he dropped his backpack on a buried explosive while on foot patrol in Afghanistan in 2012.

"It's really overall about how I look at my life, and how I keep going. The book is really a mixture of 'The Notebook,' 'Forrest Gump' and 'Saving Private Ryan."

The President's Lecture Series serves as a marketplace for ideas, featuring renowned speakers who share their knowledge, experience, opinions and accomplishments. Discussing timely topics, the series puts diversity first, offering an international lineup of authors and educators, business innovators and political figures.

Next up will be Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute the author of three books. Her speech, which is scheduled for Feb. 4, is a ticketed event presented in partnership with the Norfolk Forum.

Maria Charalambous is a student in entrepreneurship and public relations, a communication class which sees students work in partnership with the University's Office of Strategic Communication & Marketing

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