For Vice President of Programming, Kelly Roseberry, red, white and blue runs through her veins. While not a veteran of the United States military, she comes from a military family and has served her country in ways most can’t imagine.
“Military is really the only life I’ve ever known,” she said, describing herself as an Army brat.
“I was raised with a grateful heart toward our service members and I know firsthand the sacrifices that are made. It has been an honor to be able to give back to them.”
Kelly met an amputee skier when she was a child and a spark was lit.
“I couldn’t help but think how fun it would be to be a part of that level of recovery,” she said.
Kelly earned her B.S. from Virginia Tech University and Doctor of Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University. Her internships included serving three and a half months at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany followed by the same amount of time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Landstuhl was the relay point for injured service members on their way back home, which meant Kelly treated patients within 24 hours of their often life-changing injuries.
“I saw some pretty incredible injuries that these young men and women were surviving,” she said, adding that for the first time in her life, she felt she was exactly where she was supposed to be, doing exactly what she was meant to be doing.
Kelly treated patients who were arguably at the lowest points of their lives.
“I got to be part of the team to start to give them their life back,” she said. “I learned a tremendous amount about physical therapy during my time there, but I learned even more about the human spirit.”
She’ll never forget one young Marine, who had sustained six gunshot wounds the day before. She was tasked with telling him that she was there to help get him out of bed and moving around.
“He wearily smiled and nodded his head, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ I would have accepted it if he said, ‘No thanks,’ but that’s not what these men and women are made of,” she said.
As life changing as the injuries Kelly helped treat at Landstuhl were, so were the experiences she had.
“At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, young ‘kids’ were making tremendous sacrifices that would change the trajectory of their lives,” she said. “I will forever treasure my time there.”
When Kelly moved on to Walter Reed, it was her life’s trajectory that would forever be altered.
“I was able to follow some of my patients from one location to the other – a luxury that most professionals in my field don’t get to experience,” she said. “When the staff in Germany treat patients, they have no idea what the final outcome ends up being for most of them. In going to Walter Reed, I got to be along for the whole ride – the good days and the bad – ultimately, I got a front-row seat to their eventual triumphs.”
Kelly spent seven years at Walter Reed as a physical therapist and center coordinator of clinical education. She said it was incredibly gratifying to be part of a team that taught people how to walk or even run again, to show them that they could still ride a bike, snowboard or pick up their child.
“I could tell a million stories of triumph, but the hard days are the ones that stick with you the longest,” she said. “I spent plenty of sessions on a mat with a patient or their family in tears because of a setback. At the end of the day, despite how many ups and downs there may have been, most patients head out those doors with endless opportunities ahead of them.”
Kelly was not only introduced to SSG Travis Mills as part of his recovery team at Walter Reed, she also met her future husband, Chris Roseberry. He was injured in 2005, requiring part of his right leg to be amputated. He stayed on active duty with the Army but re-injured his leg in 2010, requiring more length to be removed from his limb. Chris was friends with many of Kelly’s patients, and so their paths crossed.
“My family lives about an hour away from the hospital and any patient who didn’t have somewhere to go for the holidays was always welcome to join us,” she said. “Being a military family, we understood not being near loved ones for holidays, so there was always room at our table.”
One Fourth of July, Kelly caught wind that Chris would be celebrating our nation’s independence by himself, so she encouraged him to join some of the other stragglers for beer, baseball, good food and fireworks.
“The rest is history,” she said, laughing.
Eventually, the war shifted and the number of new patients Kelly saw at Walter Reed decreased – a good problem to have, she said.
When Travis developed his vision for the Foundation, it included Kelly as programs director and now COO, and it turns out, Chris too. After serving 21 years in the military, Chris is now the Facilities Director at the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat.
“I wasn’t sure what would ever live up to my high level of expectations from a career, but I found it in the Travis Mills Foundation,” she said.
Kelly considers herself incredibly blessed to have had the chance to follow her heart when it has come to her career.
“I saw patients within hours of injury, got to follow them to their extensive rehab at Walter Reed and now I get to help recalibrated veterans with a level of real-life function. It feels like the natural next step.”
Being with recalibrated veterans and their families at the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat is the greatest part of Kelly’s job.
“We strive to provide an environment in which everyone can thrive and be the best version of themselves,” she said. “Sometimes I take a step back and watch from a distance as a dad reconnects with his kids or a family participates in an activity all together for the first time since an injury.”
They grow both in confidence and strength, Kelly said, adding, “It’s amazing what can happen in a few short days when you take away the stresses and barriers of everyday life and surround yourself with people who get it. There’s an unspoken bond among these families.”
Kelly’s personal and professional experiences, along with her participation in a number of veteran-centered nonprofits and adapted sports, has helped her grow the Travis Mills Foundation. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Shenandoah University, the University of New England and the University of Southern Maine for both physical therapy and occupational therapy programs.
Kelly’s role at TMF includes being responsible for recruiting and managing participants, developing and implementing all programming and establishing working relationships with partner organizations. Kelly and Chris reside in Readfield, Maine, near the retreat with their daughter, Emma, and their dogs.