Less than a month after Staff Sgt. Travis Mills lost his arms and legs in a southern Afghanistan terrorist attack, his wife, Kelsey, paused to reflect on an unimaginable ordeal.
I can either curl up in a ball and cry or keep going, Kelsey told The Unknown Soldiers by phone from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on May 8. I choose the latter.
Kelseys husband has
also kept going. From the moment he woke up without his limbs after an enemy improvised explosive device detonated on April 10, Mills has been preoccupied with the well-being of his fellow 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers still fighting in Afghanistan.
He worries about them constantly, Kelsey said. He makes me message them daily to make sure theyre safe.
While fellow soldiers were injured in the attack, Travis was relieved to learn they are healing. In this brave soldiers mind, if anyone was going to live out his life as a quadruple amputee, it was going to be him.
He wouldnt have let this happen to any of his guys, and thats why it didnt happen to any of his guys, Kelsey said. He was always the first in line anywhere they went.
The 23-year-old Army wife had one source of comfort after the shocking news of her husbands severe wounds changed her life. Her brother, Staff Sgt. Joshua Buck, was also deployed to Afghanistan at the time of the attack and accompanied Travis home to the United States.
I woke up in Germany, and I would have been alone, Kelsey quoted her husband as saying at Walter Reed. I couldnt have faced it without Josh.
Through searing pain and the thick haze of medication, Travis biggest fear wasnt death or adjusting to life as a wounded warrior. It was the panic his wife and their 7- month-old daughter Chloe would endure the first time they saw him without arms and legs.
Travis, 25, has spent his entire adult life putting others before himself.
Hed give you the shirt off his back without hesitation, the soldiers wife said. If you meet him, youll never forget him.
Kelseys quote is demonstrated by a national outpouring that started in the soldiers hometown of Vassar, Mich. Even though he moved away eight years ago, the community made sure the wounded warrior knew he is still their hometown hero.
Sometimes he says, Oh my God, why do people care so much, I was just doing my job, Kelsey said. And I say, You did a lot and have given a lot for all of them.
After Fox News aired a segment about the wounded soldier and his family, hundreds of supporters became hundreds of thousands. Contributions poured in to the Travis Mills Family Fund, and stellar charities like the Fisher House Foundation, Gary Sinise Foundation and Travis Manion Foundation stepped up to help Travis, Kelsey, Chloe, and close relatives.
He gets letters at the hospital daily, she said. People write such nice things.
While grateful for the media attention her husbands ordeal has garnered, Kelsey worries that the war in Afghanistan is fading from our daily national consciousness.
I wouldnt have known any of these stories if I wasnt here walking through the hospital, she said. I never would have met these families or known what theyre going through.
Kelsey believes the overwhelming support for Travis proves that if the national media reported more frequently about the sacrifices of our troops in Afghanistan, the country would rally around the military community.
This shows me that people will pay attention, she said.
All of Kelseys attention is devoted to making sure her husband knows he has a wife and baby girl who will always love him unconditionally.
Im looking forward to living a normal life, Kelsey said. But right now, I dont know what normal is.
The next time life gets you down, think of Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, his remarkable wife, and their courageous loved ones. Amid some of the most daunting physical and emotional challenges that human beings can experience, they are incredibly staying positive.
Im happy that my husband is still alive, Kelsey Mills said. Hes still here.
Lincoln bans slavery in U.S. territories
In June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln was still months away from issuing his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. But 150 years ago this week in the Civil War, Lincoln signed a bill passed by Congress that would ban slavery in the U.S. territories without compensating former slaveowners.
It signaled that Lincoln was giving deep thought to the issue of slavery as the war dragged on.
On Sept. 22, 1862, after the Union victory at Antietam, Lincoln would issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, ordering that in 100 days the federal government would deem all slaves free in those states still rebelling against the Union.
Meanwhile, the week opened with a vast Union army bristling in eastern Virginia for several major battles that would erupt in coming days and weeks. Those engagements would claim thousands of lives as Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee would seek to defend their capital of Richmond, Va., from Union foes.
The Associated Press reported intermittent shelling followed by calm. One AP dispatch dated June 22, 1862, reported from the field headquarters of Union Gen. George B. McClellan in Virginia that this has been a remarkably quiet day, considering the close proximity of the two contending forces.
But The AP reported that there had been brisk skirmishing the previous day and concluded: everything indicated that a general engagement was at hand.
Meanwhile, there were the usual daily incidents of war. A dispatch this week reported that Union soldiers hunting for deserters in northern Virginia came upon a rebel mail carrier, who was endeavoring to conceal himself in the woods. It added a large quantity of letters to prominent officers in the rebel service, many of which contain valuable information, were found in the mail bag of the arrested man.
Tom Sileo is a syndicated columnist. His Unknown Soldiers columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and appear in the Centre Daily Times on Fridays. Readers may follow his posts on Facebook and his blog at www.unknownsoldiersblog.com.