Maine’s unique retreat for combat-injured vets and their families has a successful first summer

Maine Chance Lodge & Retreat

Source: Travis Mills Foundation

In its former life, the 1,200-acre Eve Arden estate was an elite spa for rich and famous women. Today, it offers respite to a different clientele. The estate, which is located in Maine’s beautiful Belgrade Lakes region is now called the Maine Chance Lodge & Retreat. This summer, its doors were opened to welcome 57 combat-injured veterans and their families.

The retreat is a dream come true for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, who lost all four limbs after an IED explosion in Afghanistan in April 2012. He sees it as a way to honor other veterans for their service and sacrifice, as well as their families who support them.

Donors and sponsors from across the country made turning the estate into a fully accessible facility possible. The financial support also means the programs are available at no cost to participants.

We’re grateful for the donations we get – from big companies, local businesses, even kids giving their birthday money. I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to the 120+ volunteers who helped to cook, clean, and make our first families feel welcome this summer.   ~SSG Travis Mills

Maine Chance Lodge & Retreat

Source: Travis Mills Foundation

Over the course of seven weeks this past summer, guests enjoyed paddleboarding, kayaking, fly fishing, bass fishing, boating, tubing, hiking, yoga, archery, equine therapy, pottery, baking classes, kids’ crafts, golf, cycling, disc golf, martial arts, massage therapy, and more.

Kelly McGaugheyOne of the people who played an integral role in developing those programs and running the retreat is Kelly McGaughey. Kelly was one of the physical therapists who worked with Travis when he was a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. When the Maine Chance Lodge and Retreat became a reality, Travis and his wife asked Kelly to leave Walter Reed and move to Rome, Maine to become the Foundation’s Program Director.

In this podcast, Kelly and I discuss:

  • Why she agreed to become program director
  • What she has learned from the experience
  • Who the retreat is for, specifically
  • What people do when they’re there
  • How they decide what programs to offer
  • How the retreat’s first year is going
  • Plans for future programs

Listen to the podcast

Learn more about the Maine Chance Lodge and Retreat and the Travis Mills Foundation

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.