West Gardner, Maine, resident Teresa Weichmann has been a volunteer with the Travis Mills Foundation since 2020 after having the opportunity to meet SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills in person.
“I had been coming to Maine for 25-plus years,” Teresa said. “Staying at the same place, Lakeside [Lodge & Marina], which is a part of Travis’ business world.”
When Teresa and her family travel to Maine, they stay on Cobbosseecontee Lake at Lakeside Lodge & Marina – of which Travis is a co-owner. Teresa first met Travis during the family’s annual stay in East Winthrop while concluding a CrossFit workout.
“I am out by where the swingset is doing this workout,” she said. “And here comes this big, beautiful, white truck with red, white, and blue all over it. This guy jumps out of his truck – and I know now that it was Travis.”
“He comes walking over, and just starts talking to me – and I’m finding him amazing.”
Not only did Teresa realize Travis’ injuries, she was captivated by his personality.
“I had something imprinted in my brain that day,” Teresa said. “I am a spiritual girl and, that day, that moment was planted in my head because it was going to serve me later.
The following summer, Teresa and her husband had begun living in Maine seasonally – during the summer months. One day, Teresa’s initial encounter with Travis came back to her.
“And that’s where it started,” Teresa said.
Since moving to Maine permanently, Teresa has been involved in many different volunteer roles at the Foundation, including housekeeping, airport transportation, and kitchen work – but her favorite activity is fishing with the post-9/11 recalibrated veterans and their families served at the Retreat.
“Going out on that boat, and then bringing them back after they’ve been out there on a beautiful day, with the sun and the water, you can’t bottle that,” Teresa said. “The energy in [recalibrated veterans’] bodies changes, they realize it is okay to have a good time and to let their guard down.”
“I can be a part of that process, and there is nothing cooler than watching that transition.”
Teresa finds joy and fulfillment in every volunteer shift she completes.
“I’m full of gratitude every time I walk away,” Teresa said.
Being in the kitchen, Teresa feels that she is able to get to know not only the participants, but also the TMF staff.
“Every once in a while Travis comes walking in and the place just explodes with excitement.”
Travis often approaches participants, volunteers and staff with his famous catch-phrase, “What’s up winners?”
“The energy there is just so healing and positive, and when Travis is on property, the whole place is just brighter.”
Like other volunteers, Teresa finds that helping at the Foundation gives her a sense of purpose that she never thought she could have.
Coming from a family with military service dating back to World War II, Teresa appreciates the ability to give back to post-911 recalibrated veterans and their families.
“I have been led to so many places in my life, but when I shared that moment at Lakeside with Travis, I had this conversation with a total stranger, but I had this conversion that led me to this beautiful mission that he has.”
Teresa views this as her mission now, to volunteer with TMF as often as possible, doing what needs to be done to support the organization’s mission.
“To be a part of the Travis Mills Foundation, I can’t describe it. It is such a gift to be able to spend time with our recalibrated veterans and their families. Everything at TMF is just such a beautiful opportunity. I can’t get enough of it. If I could be there every day, I would. If I could buy a house closer, I would do it. Just so I could be at the Foundation every day.”
Apply to be a volunteer at the Travis Mills Foundation today and impact lives of post-9/11 recalibrated veterans and their families.