History

How the Travis Mills Foundation Started

The Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat is located on the former Elizabeth Arden Estate in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. Arden, the cosmetics maven, first used the property in Rome, Maine, as her summer home, then transformed it into a spa for the nation’s elite, including Mamie Eisenhower, Judy Garland and Ava Gardner. In 2015, U.S. Army (Ret.) Travis Mills and his wife, Kelsey, purchased the property in February and in June, held a groundbreaking for the Retreat that would enable Travis’s vision: to establish a place for recalibrated veterans and their families to connect, relax and have fun.

The 11,000-square-foot main building features eight bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, formal living and dining rooms, a commercial kitchen, library, recreation, theater, and spa rooms. Construction on a new Health and Wellness Center in 2022 has connected the historic building to the new addition. The 10,000-square-foot-building will feature an indoor pool, gym, small fitness room, massage room and commercial grade laundry and storage space. All grounds are handicap accessible.

The Retreat grounds are also home to our Warrior PATHH (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) clubhouse, labyrinth, offices, merchandise store, and multiple workshops.

Outdoor amenities include a playground, high ropes course, handicap accessible dock and kayak launch, archery range, labyrinth, basketball/tennis court, front and rear patios with fire pits and gardens.

The Arden Estate

Accomplishments

2013
The Travis Mills Foundation receives nonprofit status
2015
The Foundation purchases the former Elizabeth Arden Estate in Rome, Maine

Followed by two years of construction.

2014
The Foundation
Travis and Kelsey establish the Travis Mills Foundation, sitting at their kitchen table, along with Kelsey’s father, Craig Buck. They contributed $5,000 for the very first project of the Foundation: sending care packages to Travis’s fellow soldiers who were still deployed.
2017
Our Inaugural Year
  • We were able to partner with additional veteran support programs such as Home Base Program, Veterans Adaptive Sports Training, Project Healing Waters, Veterans Martial Arts Training, Panacea Integrative Health School, Pure Country Stables, Midwest Experience and Waterville Country Club.
  • We hosted guest chef Chip Miller from Michael Jordan’s Restaurant, Food Network chef Dan Smith, and Kelly Armetta, Executive Chef of the Hyatt Regency - Boston.
  • Donations were made from all 50 states, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany and Belgium. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and conservative budgeting, we were able to retire our $1.1M mortgage several years early.
2018
Programming Increases
  • Our second year brought 126 veteran families from 33 states and four branches of service.
  • We extended our fall programming and Caregiver Program to expand our reach, completing 16 weeks of programming.
  • We upgraded our facility and accessibility, increased our fleet of vehicles to allow us to transport families off site and increased partnerships with local organizations to provide services.
  • We also established our Ambassador program, training past participants to be vital components of spreading the word and mission of the Foundation.
  • Our fundraisers, volunteer base, and overall reach continued to grow far beyond our wildest dreams!
2019
First Winter Programming
  • We brought our first true winter programs (snowshoeing, ice fishing, tubing, etc.)!
  • We attended our first ever Industry Summit to combine best practices across the country.
  • Established ourselves as the non-profit partner to the Toy Drop event at Ft. Bragg, distributing toys to the greater Fayetteville area.
  • Completed 20 programs, including winter, caregiver and adult only.
2020
Warrior PATHH
  • Completed winter programming prior to the COVID shutdown.
  • Converted all summer programming into a modified Recalibrate Program in which we provided financial assistance in the form of gift cards, grills, home improvement projects, kayaks, bike trailers, etc.
  • Began virtual content for alumni that included monthly book club, virtual yoga, cooking classes, family crafts and more!
  • Started our Warrior PATHH (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) program in July 2020. We were able to host three of these programs the first year.
  • Expanded our Board of Directors.
2021
Ground Breaking for Health & Wellness Center
  • Continued to host our winter retreats virtually as Virtual Weekends at Home. We sent boxes of supplies to each family that was signed up and hosted a variety of activities including games, yoga, cooking class, workouts, and crafts throughout the weekend.
  • PATHH continued monthly as scheduled and we resumed in-person summer programming. We decreased our capacity slightly and had some modifications to activities but overall, resumed pre-covid retreats.
  • Began weekly online engagements on the alumni page on Facebook.
  • Reorganization within the staff and organization overall.
  • Broke ground on our Health and Wellness Center and hosted our first gala in September.
2022
Recalibrate Program Launches
  • We have continued to host some virtual weekends throughout the schedule, hosted adults only in our winter retreats, and continued holding virtual content through the alumni page.
  • We will host three weeks at the Atlanta Aquarium throughout the year.
  • Launched our Recalibrate Program designed to capitalize on the motivation participants feel while they are here and help them reach goals once they return home.
  • We have 37 programs on the schedule for this year!
2023
Foundation Continues Successful Year

In 2023, we’ve held 37 in-person programs with approximately 60 programs total.

Since 2017, the Travis Mills Foundation has hosted a total of 109 weeks of programming, served 785 veterans, 882 families, 2,568 people (including 882 children) from 44 states (plus Washington, D.C., and Canada).