Army Veteran Amanda Seward Sets Goal for 2026 Paralympics

When Army Veteran Amanda Seward’s leg was amputated in 2019 because of an injury she sustained while in service to our country, she had a choice: move forward and “Recalibrate” or let the injury stop her from living a full life.

With support from the Travis Mills Foundation, Amanda chose to Recalibrate and a newfound passion for athletic competition.

“Recalibrated veteran” is a term coined by U.S. Army SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills when he lost portions of all his limbs in an IED explosion during his third tour in Afghanistan. Travis was injured and healed – he didn’t want to be referred to as a wounded warrior – his wounds had healed. Instead, he referred to himself as “Recalibrated;” he adjusted to his new normal.

In establishing the Foundation and Veterans Retreat, it has been Travis’s goal to inspire fellow recalibrated veterans how to live life off the sidelines. As a Recalibrated Veteran, Amanda hasn’t let her injury stop her. In fact, she’s training for snowboarding and cycling competitions, among other sports, and she rocks a pair of heels in her prosthetic.

The training, at many times is arduous, but is preparing Amanda for an illustrious goal – to compete in the 2026 Paralympics. It has been an honor for the Travis Mills Foundation to support Amanda in her goals by providing her with a trainer through its Recalibrate Program.

Amanda’s Military Experience

An Indiana native, Amanda, now age 31, spent nearly 10 years serving our country. After her second deployment, Amanda landed a job as a recruiter in the Active Guard Reserve. While on the job, Amanda was traveling for drill weekend on a terribly snowy morning and while all other branches of the military canceled drill, the Army hadn’t so Amanda had to continue the mission as a brand new female sergeant to a unit of 11B (infantrymen).

Amanda had sustained a minor accident that caused her to pull off to the side of the road to get something out of the trunk to fix the car itself when another vehicle heading to drill hit her from behind causing her and her friend to be crushed in between both vehicles. A few months later, after constant infections and several surgeries to try to salvage her limb, it was amputated on April 1, 2019.

2 ½ years after her initial injury, Amanda visited the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat straight from recovery at Walter Reed, served an important purpose for her.

“My favorite part of the Retreat was trying to find my new self,” she said. “My body was still in this fight or flight moment the whole time because it was expecting to be going back to Walter Reed at any moment; I had just left the hospital behind a few days prior, ”

At the Retreat, Amanda appreciated the opportunity to challenge herself on the High Ropes Course.

“That was really cool and it pushed my limits,” she said. “It humbled me, honestly and introduced other struggles I hadn’t gotten to experience post injury.”

Amanda said the experience at TMF was great and she didn’t feel pressured to participate in any activities that would have made her feel uncomfortable. She also appreciated having time away from others, if that’s what she needed in any given moment.

“No one was watching my every move and no one was judging me. I could just be,” she said.

While the Travis Mills Foundation offers a number of adapted activities to post-9/11 recalibrated veterans and their families, participants are not required to do anything that they don’t want to do – they are welcome to enjoy the rest and relaxation they deserve.

Amanda said that while coming to the Retreat straight from Walter Reed was stressful on her body, it helped her transition into figuring out who she was going to be in the civilian world.

Amanda is indeed making a place for herself in the civilian world and for her, that means pursuing life as an athlete. That life, however, can be costly.

Travis Mills Foundation Staff encouraged Amanda to apply for its Recalibrate Program, which capitalizes on a participant’s motivation after attending the Retreat by providing financial assistance, goal setting, and long-term follow up.

“The program has provided everything from helping to pave a driveway, provide in-home cleaning services, a computer to help with a home business, an electric bike to help a veteran stay healthy by safely riding to work, and helped with moving expenses for someone that needed a healthier environment,” said Kelly Roseberry, Vice President of Programming at the Foundation.
Through this program, the Travis Mills Foundation provided a trainer for Amanda to prepare for the Paralympics, which will take place in Italy in 2026.

“Toni is amazing,” Amanda said. “When we met I told her I was going to the Paralympics. She’s like, “OK, let’s go! I had never had anyone stand behind me so fast. She didn’t even question it.’”

While Toni hadn’t worked with an amputee before, she’s embraced the challenge and found joy working alongside the adaptive community. Amanda also appreciates Toni’s willingness to be flexible with training.

“We’re both in this journey together,” Amanda added.

In May 2023, Amanda visited the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat for the second time, after becoming an above-the-knee amputee in 2022. Pain, arthritis and bone spurs had plagued the knee on her amputated leg. After a surgery to remove her knee and additonally two inches from Amanda’s femur, she had to re-learn how to walk – again, but remained determined.

While at the Retreat, Amanda completed the Travis Mills Foundation’s Miles for Mills 5K for the first time on her new blade prosthetic(a few weeks after just learning to run again); a staffer walked and ran alongside Amanda during the race, carrying her everyday leg.

“[The race] was a struggle,” she said, adding that she was glad she finished the race without having to switch prosthetics. “Struggle and success go hand in hand, though. If you feel like you’re successful and you didn’t struggle along the way, then something has to be missing.”

On her handcycle, Amanda also recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon, the Spartan Race with Team Oscar Mike, the Army 10 Miler and the Heart of Virginia, which was 34 miles and took 4.5 hours for Amanda to complete.

The steep hills in these races are a challenge and sometimes she needs to break so that she has a moment to stand and stretch.

“(It’s challenging) to sit and wait while other people are flying past you,” she added. “But everyone is encouraging, which is great.”

A common challenge that Amanda faces, however, isn’t a physical one, it is the financial aspect of competition.

“The expenses – transportation, hotels, equipment – add up,” she said.

“Snowboarding is especially expensive. I apply for scholarships when I can.”
She’s also working with the Veterans Administration to become a sponsored veteran athlete.

Amanda recognizes the possibility that she won’t qualify for the 2026 Paralympics but her attitude is the same: “I’m going to continue to dive into training and work as hard as I can.”

Additionally, Amanda is studying for a degree in Art Therapy, a major in psychology and a minor in art, even working ahead on assignments in order to train. What’s Amanda’s dream job after completing school? To work as an art therapist and to establish TAB: Taking Art into Battle, an organization that will support past, present and future military veterans in art therapy and securing other resources. She also intends to petition to Congress for the military to recognize the benefits of the creative arts as therapy given alongside behavioral health therapy– “I’m going to tell them it needs to be an MOS.”

“Why wait for [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] to fully set in when you get home,” she added.

Amanda has completed Warrior PATHH (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) at the Travis Mills Foundation. The program helps post-9/11 combat veterans and first responders help achieve Post-Traumatic Growth and is taught by folks who completed the program themselves.

Having Fun with Prosthetics

While training, Amanda works closely with her prosthetist to not only ensure her various prosthetics are functional, but fashionable too.

“I’d still be getting tattoos on my leg if I still could, so I figured, ‘Why can’t my leg be fashionable too?’” she said.

Amanda has five different prosthetics – an everyday leg, a snowboarding/weightlifting leg, running blade, a jogging foot and the prosthetic that allows her to wear high heels.

“I want to have fun with it,” Amanda said of her prosthetics. “It’s one life. Enjoy the hop along.”