MetroFocus: November 11, 2021

Governor Phil Murphy narrowly defeated his Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli to become the first Democrat in the state to be re-elected as governor since 1977. But despite his ultimate victory, the election was much closer than predicted, signaling possible future troubles for Democrats in the Garden State and across the country. With the results of the legislative races also unexpected, we sit down with MetroFocus contributor and award-winning anchor of New Jersey PBS’ “State Of Affairs” Steve Adubato to discuss just what happened in New Jersey.

Tonight in honor of the men and women who gave their lives serving our country in the armed forces, we welcome Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, who on his third and voluntary deployment to Afghanistan, suffered an unimaginable loss: all four of his limbs. He discusses his new book, “Tough as They Come,” how he continues to overcome life’s challenges and physical barriers, and why he became an advocate for veterans and amputees.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

ELECTION DAY IN NEW JERSEY, GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY NARROWLY DEFEATED JACK CIATTERELLI TO BECOME THE FIRST DEMOCRAT IN THE STATE TO BE REELECTED AS GOVERNOR SINCE 1977.

STILL, DESPITE HIS VICTORY, THE ELECTION WAS MUCH CLOSER THAN ALMOST EVERY EXPERT PREDICTED, SIGNALING POSSIBLE TROUBLE FOR DEMOCRATS IN THE GARDEN STATE AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY NEXT YEAR, AND POSSIBLY IN 2024.

THERE'S ALSO NEW JERSEY'S LEGISLATIVE RACES THAT WERE UNEXPECTED.

WHILE DEMOCRATS DID HOLD ON TO SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITIES IN THE ASSEMBLY AND STATE SENATE, EXCEPT FOR SOME SHOCKING LOSSES, INCLUDING SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE SWEENEY'S LOSS TO EDWARD DURR, A LITTLE KNOWN REPUBLICAN WHO SPENT LESS THAN $3,000 ON HIS ENTIRE CAMPAIGN.

AN OUTCOME THAT MANY ARE CALLING THE BIGGEST ELECTION DAY UPSET IN THE COUNTRY.

AND JOINING US NOW TO HELP EXPLAIN WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED IN NEW JERSEY AND IN JUST ABOUT EVERY STATE WHERE ELECTIONS WERE HELD ON NOVEMBER 2nd IS A 'METROFOCUS' DISTRIBUTOR AND ANCHOR OF THE NEW JERSEY PBS SHOW 'STATE OF AFFAIRS.'

STEVE, WELCOME BACK.

GREAT TO BE WITH YOU, RAF.

SO STEVE, I SHOULD START BY SAYING AS OF THIS TAPING, JACK CIATTERELLI HAS NOT CONCEDED TO GOVERNOR MURPHY YET, ALTHOUGH, OF COURSE, EVERY MAJOR MEDIA OUTLET HAS CALLED THE RACE.

ANY CHANCE THAT THE VICTORY COULD BE REVERSED ONCE ALL THE LEGAL BALLOTS ARE COUNTED AS CIATTERELLI TENDS TO PUT IT?

NO, I DON'T.

60,000 VOTES IS 60,000 VOTES.

IT'S STILL WAY TIGHTER THAN A LOT OF DEMOCRATS THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE IN A STATE WITH 1.1 MILLION MORE DEMOCRATS THAN REPUBLICANS.

IT SHOULD NOT BE A 2% MARGIN FOR GOVERNOR MURPHY.

LISTEN, I'M HOPING AND PRAYING THAT JACK CIATTERELLI ACKNOWLEDGES THIS, BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT HIS INTENT, I DON'T BELIEVE, BUT THE LONGER IT GOES THAT THE LOSER OF A RACE DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THE OUTCOME OF AN ELECTION, GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED IN 2020, AND ON JANUARY 6, WE'RE PLAYING WITH FIRE WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

AND JACK CIATTERELLI SEEMS LIKE A DECENT GUY.

COFFI CONCEDE THE RACE, ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT HAPPENED AND MOVE ON.

LET'S START WITH THE GOVERNOR'S RACE, THAT GOVERNOR MURPHY WON IT.

WHERE DID CIATTERELLI DO BETTER THAN EXPECTED AND WHERE DID PHIL MURPHY DO WORSE THAN EXPECTED?

SIT REL CIATTERELLI CAPTURED IMAGINATION OF SUBURBAN VOTERS, INDEPENDENTS WHO COULD GO EITHER WAY AND MORE CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT DEMOCRATS.

AND HERE WAS THE GEE.

THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT GOVERNOR MURPHY SAID PUBLICLY HE WISHES HE HAD NOT SAY, AND YOU KNOW IT, RAF.

'IF TAXES ARE YOUR ISSUES, NEW JERSEY IS PROBABLY NOT YOUR STATE.'

CIATTERELLI TAKES THAT ONE LINE, HE DIDN'T EDIT IT, HE DIDN'T TAKE IT.

MURPHY SAID IT.

I ASKED HIM SEVERAL TIMES, HE SAID HE MEANT SOMETHING MORE THAN THAT.

HERE'S THE PROBLEM IN POLITICS.

YOU HAVE A ONE LINER LIKE THAT, YOU CAN RIDE IT TO THE ELECTION.

AND FOR NEW JERSEY, WHICH HAS THE HIGHEST PROPERTY TAXES IN THE NATION, LOSING MORE AND MORE PEOPLE TO FLORIDA WHO ARE LEAVING THE STATE BECAUSE THEY'RE TRYING TO GO TO A NO-INCOME TAX STATE.

YOU CAN'T SAY WITH THE COST OF LIVING BEING WHAT IT IS THAT IF TAXES ARE YOUR ISSUE, NEW JERSEY IS PROBABLY NOT YOUR STATE.

CIATTERELLI RODE THAT ALL THE WAY, AND IT HURT MURPHY TE TERRIBLY.

WHERE DID GOVERNOR MURPHY DO WORSE THAN EXPECTED?

MORE URBAN VOTERS IN ESSEX COUNTY.

HERE'S THE PROBLEM, HE WON BY A GREAT PERCENTAGE, BUT HE DID NOT WIN BY A PLURALITY IN BERGEN COUNTY AND ESSEX COUNTY AND IN CAMDEN COUNTY.

THOSE ARE DEMOCRATIC STRONG HOLDS.

DISPROPORTIONATELY BLACK AND BROWN VOTERS THAT VOTE DEMOCRATIC.

THEY WERE NOT OVERLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN.

THE MURPHY PEOPLE WILL SAY THEY DIDN'T TAKE IT FOR GRANT IT, BUT IT'S NOT WHAT I THINK OR YOU THINK, IT'S IF VOTERS THINK THEY WERE TAKEN FOR GRANT IT, AND WITH HISPANIC VOTERS, MURPHY DID NOT GET OUT THE VOTE.

HE SHOULD HAVE.

WHEN WE SPOKE ABOUT THIS RACE A WEEK BEFORE IT HAPPENED, WE BOTH, I THINK, AGREED THAT CIATTERELLI'S BIGGEST VULNERABILITY WAS DONALD TRUMP, BECAUSE HE SEEMED TO HAVE EMBRACED HIM, EVEN THOUGH IN 2016 HE CONDEMNED HIM.

IT APPEARS HE GOT A LOT OF THOSE REPUBLICANS IN THE SUBURBS BACK, A LOT OF THE INDEPENDENTS THAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE EXPECTED FROM ANTI-TRUMP VOTERS.

IT JUST SEEMS LIKE THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT TRUMP IF HE'S NOT ON THE BALLOT.

IT APPEARS FROM THIS ELECTION AND VIRGINIA, AS WELL.

BUT I WONDER IF JOE BIDEN HAD AN IMPACT ON THIS RACE, THE TROUBLES HE'S BEEN HAVING, PARTICULARLY SINCE THE CHAOTIC EXIT FROM AFGHANISTAN.

DID THAT IMPACT NEW JERSEY'S RACE?

I BELIEVE IT DID, RAF.

WE THINK WE KNOW.

WE CAN TAKE EDUCATED GUESSES, YES.

REMEMBER, THE INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL, WHICH MEANS SO MUCH TO NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY REGION, PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT GATEWAY, WHICH 'METROFOCUS' HAS DONE A GREAT JOB COVERING OVER THE YEARS, IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

LET ME TELL YOU, ON THE TUESDAY OF THAT ELECTION, NOVEMBER 2nd, THERE WAS NO DEAL IN WASHINGTON AMONGST THE DEMOCRATS.

YOU HAD JOE BIDEN, YOU HAD THE DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, THEY COULDN'T AGREE ON ANYTHING.

SO A LOT OF VOTERS ARE LIKE, WAIT A MINUTE, THE DEMOCRATS HAVE CONTROL IN WASHINGTON, THEY'RE NOT GETTING IT DONE.

BIDEN'S -- THE PERCEPTION OF BIDEN THAT HE'S NOT LEADING AS STRONGLY AS HE SHOULD BE LEADING AND GETTING THINGS DONE, HURT GOVERNOR MURPHY.

AND CIATTERELLI WAS SMART ENOUGH TO NOT CRITICIZE DONALD TRUMP, WHO WAS FRANKLY A VERY NEGATIVE FIGURE IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK, OBVIOUSLY.

HE STIFF-ARMED HIM, KEPT HIM AWAY BUT DIDN'T CRITICIZE HIM.

SO HE KEPT THE TRUMP LOVERS IN SYNC WITH HIM, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, WAS FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM TRUMP TO NOT SCARE PEOPLE.

OVER TIME, THAT'S GOING TO BE HARDER AND HARDER, BECAUSE DONALD TRUMP IN MY VIEW IS NOT GOING TO SAY THAT'S OKAY, I DON'T HAVE TO COME IN, DO WHATEVER YOU WANT AND I'LL TAKE CREDIT FOR IT ANY WAY, WHICH IS HISTORY IN THESE RACES.

VIRGINIA, THE SAME THING.

IT'S GOING TO BE HARDER IN 2022.

HE KEPT TRUMP AT A DISTANCE.

REALLY QUICKLY.

SOME PUNDITS SAID IF THE CONGRESSIONAL RACE HAD BEEN ON THE BALLOT THIS YEAR, A LOT OF DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS PEOPLE WOULD HAVE LOST.

OTHERS ARE SAYING THAT IF THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES HAD BEEN ON THE BALLOT, DEMOCRATS WOULD HAVE DONE BETTER ACROSS THE BOARD BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE BROUGHT OUT MORE DEMOCRATS.

WHO'S RIGHT?

I DON'T KNOW, BUT IF THE REPUBLICANS TAKE FIVE SEATS IN THE HOUSE IN 2022, THEY TAKE CONTROL OVER THE LOWER HOUSE.

THERE ARE THREE SEATS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS IN NEW JERSEY, THREE OF THOSE SEATS HELD BY DEMOCRATS RIGHT NOW THAT PHIL MURPHY DID NOT WIN, AND THAT JACK CIATTERELLI WON.

I'M NOT SAYING TWO PLUS TWO EQUALS FOUR, BUT WHAT I AM SAYING IS THIS -- THOSE DEMOCRATS, JOSH GOTHEIMER, CONGRESSMAN KIM IN OCEAN COUNTY, MIKEY CHERYL AND OTHERS.

I'M GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING, IF THE DEMOCRATS LOSE THREE OF THOSE SEATS IN NEW JERSEY AND GO REPUBLICAN, THE HOUSE IS LIKELY TO GO REPUBLICAN, BECAUSE THEY ONLY NEED FIVE.

OF COURSE.

YOU CAN'T SAY WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IN THIS RACE, BUT THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE PERCEIVED TO MOVE MORE TO THE CENTER, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW THEY'RE PERCEIVED TO BE WAY TOO FAR LEFT.

WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT, BUT I WANT TO GET TO THE STEVE SWEENEY RACE, WHO JUST CONCEDED, FINALLY.

FOR THOSE THAT DON'T KNOW NEW JERSEY POLITICS, I THINK IT WOULD HELP IF I SAID THIS.

SWEENEY IS A LOT MORE JOE MANCHIN THAN HE IS BERNIE SANDERS.

YOU KNOW, HE'S A MODERATE, POWERFUL SENATOR IN TRENTON, WHOM THE PROGRESSIVES HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET OUT OF OFFICE FOR YEARS.

THE TEACHERS UNION HAS SPENT MILLIONS OVER YEARS TO GET HIM OUT.

AND SUDDENLY HAVE THIS REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVE, SPENDING LESS THAN $3,000, BEATING HIM.

TWO QUESTIONS -- WHAT DOES THIS LOSS MEAN FOR SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATS, WHERE THEY HAVE POWER IN TRENTON?

AND SECONDLY, MIGHT IT NOT BE IRONIC THAT HIS DEFEAT WILL GREATLY STRENGTHEN THE NORTHERN OH NEW JERSEY PROGRESSIVES AND THE PROGRESSIVE GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY?

IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY, THEY SENT FOR CIATTERELLI.

SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE THERE ARE TWO STATES IN NEW JERSEY.

I KNOW WE'RE CALLED A BLUE STATE.

BUT WE'RE A BLUE COLLAR STATE.

SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY IS MORE REPUBLICAN AND MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE STATE.

THAT'S NUMBER ONE.

EVEN THOUGH SWEENEY WAS IN SYNC WITH A LOT OF THAT, MURPHY DID LOSE SWEENEY'S DISTRICT BY A LOSE.

SOME ARGUED THAT STEVE SWEENEY WAS SO FOCUSED ON RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN A FEW YEARS, HE MAY HAVE LOST CONNECTION WITH HIS DISTRICT.

I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S TRUE, BUT SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATS HAVE LOST A LOT OF POWER.

AND THE NEW PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE IS LIKELY TO BE NICK SATARI.

HE'S FROM THE CENTRAL PART OF THE STATE, UNION COUNTY.

SO SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY LOST A LOT OF POWER.

I DON'T KNOW IF IT MEANS THE PROGRESSIVES WILL BE -- IF THE DEMOCRATS DON'T MOVE CENTER, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO WIN NATIONALLY IN 2022 AND 2024.

LET ME ELABORATE ON WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY.

A LOT OF DISTRICTS AROUND THE COUNTRY THAT LOOK LIKE THE DISTRICTS IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY, WHITE WORKING CLASS, A BIT RURAL IN CERTAIN PARTS, HAVE GONE FULL-FLEDGE REPUBLICANS OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS.

ANY CHANCE THAT SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY WILL BECOME RED, COMPLETELY RED FROM NOW ON?

YOU KNOW, THE TRUMP THING IS -- PRESIDENT TRUMP IS POPULAR IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY.

HE JUST IS.

AND I DON'T KNOW HOW THIS PLAYS OUT IN TERMS OF WHETHER HE IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OR PEOPLE LIKE CHRIS CHRISTIE WHO ARE CRITICIZING HIM AND MORE MODERATE REPUBLICANS PUSH BACK.

AND I DON'T KNOW WHERE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS.

IF YOU ASK ME, IS IT GOING TO GO RED.

S IS IT TRUMP RED OR MODERATE REPUBLICANS WHO ABHOR DONALD TRUMP, AND HOW DONALD TRUMP'S PRESIDENCY ENDED ON JANUARY 6.

SO I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS GOING TO BE MOVING FORWARD.

LESS THAN 30 SECONDS.

DO YOU THINK THE DEMOCRATS IN NEW JERSEY CAN TURN THIS AROUND BY MIDTERM ELECTIONS OR DO YOU THINK THAT THIS RED WAVE OR RED TSUNAMI WILL CONTINUE, 25 SECONDS.

RANYONE WHO THINKS THEY KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IS KIDDING THEMSELVES.

I THINK THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO PUSH BACK ON GOVERNOR MURPHY, THEY'LL PUT A PRICE TAG ON THINGS AND HOLD THE LINE ON TAXES SO THEY CAN'T BE ACCUSED OF BEING TAX AND SPEND LEFT WING PROGRESSIVES.

AND DO THINK THE DEMOCRATS CAN HANG IN.

STEVE, THIS'S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE.

THANKS SO MUCH, BROTHER.

ALWAYS MY PLEASURE, MY FRIEND.

> ON 9/11, OUR CITY AND WORLD CHANGED FOREVER.

THE LOSS ALMOST UNIMAGINABLE.

THE REACTION, SWIFT.

AS TROOPS WERE DEPLOYED TO HUNT DOWN THE EVILDOERS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ.

WE ALL HAVE STORIES OF THAT HORRIFIC DAY AND THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED.

BUT FEW PEOPLE EXPERIENCED LOSS LIKE MY NEXT GUESS.

MEET ARMY STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS.

I LOVED THE MILITARY.

DOING MY JOB WAS THE GREATEST FOR ME.

WHEN MY WIFE AND KID, THAT WAS THE BEST.

I HAD A REALLY GOOD LIFE MAPPED OUT.

I WAS REALLY DOING WELL.

PEOPLE CALL ME A HERO, BUT I'M NOT SURE WHAT PART OF IT MAKES ME A HERO.

I JUST HAD A NORMAL DAY AT WORK THAT TURNED UGLY.

ABOUT SIX SECONDS I GUESS LATER, I WOKE UP AND A MEDIC CAME UP.

I NEED PEOPLE OVER HERE!

FOR ABOUT 20 SECONDS, HE HAD TOURNIQUETS BOTH LEGS AND BOTH ARMS.

MY LAST THOUGHT WAS, MY BABY GIRL, AM I GOING TO SEE IT HER AGAIN?

I'M GETTING TEARED UP.

SORRY.

WE LOVE YOU, DADDY.

I SAID HEY, DOC, LOOK BEHIND YOU.

MY WIFE, MY DAUGHTER.

I HAVE A FAMILY.

GET ME OUT OF HERE.

AND JOINING ME NOW IS ARMY STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS, AUTHOR OF 'TOUGH AS THEY COME.'

STAFF SERGEANT MILLS FOUGHT THROUGH THREE TOURS OF SERVICE DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM, THE LAST WAS DURING THAT TOUR THAT HE WAS WOUNDED.

HE CAME HOME A HERO, AND A QUADRUPLE AMPUTEE.

AND HE JOINS US TODAY TO TALK TO YOU.

NICE TO SEE YOU, TRAVIS.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

WE SAW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED THERE.

GIVE FOLKS AN UNDERSTANDING OF THIS.

YOU'RE A MEMBER OF THE 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION --

THE BEST.

YOU'RE BACK FOR A THIRD TOUR OF DUTY, AND YOU HAD SAID TO YOUR WIFE, YOU FELT LIKE YOU HAD TO GO BACK THIS TIME.

WHY DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD TO GO BACK?

WELL, I MEAN, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO -- I HAD ORD ERSZ ERS TAKING ME SOMEWHERE ELSE TO BUILD UP A COMBAT BRIGADE.

BUT I DIDN'T FEEL RIGHT ABOUT IT.

I HAD GUYS THAT I TRAINED WITH, GUYS THAT CAME OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL AND LOOK UP TO ME AND I TAUGHT THEM HOW TO DO EVERYTHING.

MY WIFE UNDERSTANDS IT'S A CALLING, A BROTHERHOOD AND YOU DON'T TURN YOUR BACK.

SO I WENT TO MY SERGEANT MAJOR AND SAID IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO ABOUT THIS, BECAUSE THIS THIRD DEPLOYMENT COMING UP FOR ME, AND I JUST HAVE TO GO.

HE SAID HE'LL TAKE CARE OF IT AND HE DID.

AND IT'S JUST PART OF A JOB.

YOU DON'T LEAVE YOUR BROTHERS IN ARMS.

IF YOU HAVEN'T SERVED, I THINK SOMETIMES IT'S DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO APPRECIATE THAT.

BUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE SERVED, TO THEM, IT'S THE MOST NATURAL THING TO DO.

IT'S A FAMILY THAT'S VERY DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS.

IS THAT A FAIR WAY TO CHARACTERIZE IT?

I THINK.

IT'S KIND OF LIKE BEING ON A SPORTS TEAM, YOU KNOW.

YOU HAVE YOUR FRIENDS YOU PLAY YOUR SPORTS WITH AND YOU'RE TIKT W -- TIGHT WITH THEM.

IN THE ARMY, YOU LIVE WITH THEM, EAT WITH THEM, AND YOU DO EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO.

BUT WHERE -- ON A SPORTS TEAM YOU PRACTICE PLAYS.

BUT IN THE MILITARY, YOU PRACTICE TAKING DOWN THREATS, AND IF YOU DON'T, SOMEBODY MIGHT NOT WALK AWAY.

BUT I DIDN'T FEEL OBLIGATED TO GO, I WANTED TO GO.

IT WAS VOLUNTARY TO JOIN THE MILITARY.

MY DEPLOYMENT CAME UP, AND I WAS THEIR BOSS AND I COULDN'T SEE MYSELF GOING ANYWHERE ELSE.

MY WIFE KNEW THAT.

WE HAD A BABY DUE.

SHE UNDERSTOOD?

SHE UNDERSTOOD.

THAT'S A SPECIAL TYPE OF SPOUSE, I THINK.

ABSOLUTELY.

MY WIFE IS THE BEST.

YOU'RE LUCKY.

I'M NOT JUST SAYING THAT JUST BECAUSE SHE'S WATCHING.

YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT HOW IT HAPPENED.

YOU'RE IN AN AREA, IEDs, EVERYBODY THOUGHT IT WAS CLEARED.

YOU JUST DROP YOUR BACKPACK AND EVERYTHING GOES OFF.

DID YOU KNOW THE EXTENT OF YOUR INJURIES INITIALLY?

OH, YEAH.

APRIL 10, 2012, I WAS WALKING ALONG, GROUND PATROL.

EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL.

WE HAD A MINE SWEEPER IN FRONT.

HE WAS GOING UP AND DOWN, NOTHING PINGED, NOTHING MADE A SOUND OR ACTED DIFFERENT.

SO I SAID OKAY, COOL.

HAD MY TEAM LEADER COME UP, GET THE GUN UP HERE.

I TOOK MY BAG OFF, WHICH IS BETWEEN 80 TO 110 POUNDS.

WHICH PUT THEM ON THE GROUND AND LINK THEM TOGETHER.

AND I SET MY BAG DOWN AND WITHIN A SECOND, AN INSTANT, A BOMB WENT OFF.

RIPPED OFF MY RIGHT ARM AND LEG IMMEDIATELY.

I DID REAL HARD SLAM TO THE GROUND.

MY LEFT EYE SWELLED SHUT.

MY LEFT LEG HAD A COUPLE PIECES OF TEN ONDON.

MY LEFT HAND, MY RING AND FPINK FINGER WAS GONE.

I CALLED ON THE MIC AND SAID I NEED A MEDIC OVER HERE, WE HIT BOMB.

THE MEDIC WAS WORKING ON ME, I TOLD HIM TO GET AWAY FROM ME, SAVE MY GUYS.

IT DOESN'T SURPRISE ME, KNOWING YOU THAT YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WAS FOR YOUR SOLDIERS.

DID YOU THINK YOU WERE GOING TO SURVIVE?

NO, NO.

I'VE SEEN WOUNDS A LOT, A LOT LESS SEVERE THAN WHAT I HAD, AND THOSE GUYS DIDN'T MAKE IT.

SOY DIDN'T WANT TO GO OUT SCARED OR CRYING.

I TOLD HIM IT'S COOL, I GET WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN JUST RIGHT NOW.

TELL MY FAMILY I LOVE THEM, JUST SAVE MY GUYS.

I KEPT TELLING HIM, SERIOUSLY, GO.

AND THEN HE WORKED ON ME AND ANOTHER MEDIC CAME UP AND WITHIN TEN MINUTES THEY HAD ME -- GETTING READY TO GO ON THE HELICOPTER.

TWO OTHER GUYS GOT HURT WITH ME.

I WAS YELLING AT THE FLIGHT CREW, BECAUSE THEY CAN'T HEAR.

I SAID, GET MY GUYS OUT, HE WAS YELLING OUT IN PAIN.

YOU KNOW, THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT.

'TOUGH AS THEY COME' IS SOMETHING THEY WROTE TO MY WIFE.

I MADE IT TO THE AMBULANCE, THE OPERATING TABLE.

I KEPT TRYING TO SIT UP, QUIT TOUCHING ME, I'VE GOT TO GET BACK TO MY GUYS.

THEY SAID I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'RE STILL COHERENT.

THE LAST THING I SAID, MY BABY GIRL, AM GUYING TO SEE HER AGAIN?

I HAD A 4-MONTH-OLD WHEN I DEPLOYED.

ONCE I REALIZED THE SITUATION I WAS GOING INTO THE OPERATION, MY GUYS WERE TAKEN CARE OF, IT WAS TIME TO THINK ABOUT MY FAMILY, MY WIFE, MY KID.

WE SHOULD MENTION, YOU SHOWED ME A WONDERFUL PICTURE, THAT LITTLE BABY GIRL JUST TURNED 4.

SHE'S MY BEST FRIEND, WE HANG OUT.

SO THEY SEDATED ME ON THE OPERATING TABLE, AND TWO DAYS LATER THEY CUT MY LEFT HAND OFF.

WHEN THEY PULLED MY PANTS OFF, MY LEFT LEG CAME WITH THE PANTS.

SO THAT WAS EASY.

I CAN JOKE AROUND ABOUT IT NOW.

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

YEAH.

WHEN TO BETHESDA, WALTER REED, GREAT CARE, AWESOME PLACE.

ON THE 17th OF APRIL, I TOLD -- MY WIFE HAD TO TELL THEM TO CUT SOME MORE OF MY LEG OFF.

I CAME OUT OF SURGERY, AND I JUST TOLD HER, YOU DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS.

TAKE EVERYTHING WE HAVE, IT'S YOURS.

TAKE ANYTHING IN THE ACCOUNT THAT WE HAVE.

AND I'M NOT GOING TO HOLD ANY GRUDGE.

YOU DON'T GOT TO DO THIS.

AND WHAT DID SHE SAY TO YOU?

SHE SAID DON'T BE SILLY.

I SAID I CAN'T DO ANYTHING.

SHE JUST TOLD ME, THAT'S NOT WHERE I'M HERE FOR, TO LEAVE YOU AT A TIME LIKE THIS.

AND IT WAS TIME TO MAKE A DECISION.

EITHER HAVE SOMEONE SPOON-FEEDING ME OR BE A FATHER FIGURE TO MY DAUGHTER, WHO IS MY BEST FRIEND, AND TEACH HER HOW TO DO EVERYTHING.

I GOT TO LEARN HOW TO WALK WITH MY DAUGHTER.

YOU ARE AN ATHLETE, FOOTBALL PLAYER IN HIGH SCHOOL AND JUNIOR COLLEGE.

IS PART OF THIS -- ALL THESE PHYSICAL ACTIVITACTIVITIES, NOT FOR YOU BUT TO SHOW OTHERS?

I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW WITH MY SITUATION, I'M NOT LIVING LIFE ON THE SIDELINES.

I'M OUT THERE, BEING ACTIVE, DOING WHATEVER I CAN DO.

AND THAT'S THE REASON THE FOUNDATIONS ARE AROUND, BECAUSE I BRING OUT GUYS IN MY SITUATION AND GIRLS IN MY SITUATION AND SHOW THEM, YOU CAN DO THINGS.

I THINK IT WAS THE MOST REWARDING TRIP I'VE EVER DONE.

I WENT TO BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO, AND I LEARNED HOW TO SNOWBOARD, AND LEARNED HOW TO MONOSKI.

I DON'T CARE FOR THAT, THAT MUCH, BUT SNOWBOARDS, I LEARNED HOW TO SNOWBOARD ON MY SHORT LEGS FIVE MONTHS AFTER MY EXPLOSION, AND I NEVER LOOKED BACK.

I WAS LIKE, OKAY, THIS CAN BE DONE.

YOU'VE GOT A GREAT PROGRAM THAT YOU'RE PUTTING TOGETHER UP IN MAINE.

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM DOING FOR OTHERS?

WE JUST WANTED TO GIVE BACK.

MY WIFE AND I WANTED TO HELP PEOPLE OUT.

WE WERE TALKING ABOUT SENDING CARE PACKAGES OVERSEAS.

PEANUT BUTTER M&Ms, GUM AND GUMMY BEARS.

THAT'S ALL THEY WANT.

THAT'S ALL I WANTED ANY WAY.

BUT SOMETHING REAL SIMPLE, MAYBE $3,000, $5,000 A YEAR WE COULD RAISE AND GIVE BACK, BECAUSE ALL OF THE SUPPORT WE WERE SHOWN.

WE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH A GENTLEMAN ABOUT HOW THE THINGS I WAS DOING.

MY WIFE WANTED TO MOVE TO MAINE, SO WE WERE GOING TO MOVE TO MAINE.

WE JUST THOUGHT LET'S HOST A CAMP.

WE HAD TWO CONCEPTS, WE BROUGHT UP GUYS IN MY SITUATION AND THEIR FAMILIES.

AND SHOWED THEM HOW TO KAYAK, BOAT, FISH, SWIM, TUBE.

ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE.

AND SO THIS PAST YEAR WE PURCHASED A PROPERTY.

NOW WE'RE UNDER A MASSIVE, MASSIVE RECONSTRUCTION.

WE'RE LOOKING TO RAISE $2.7 MILLION, AND ALL THE UPDATES ARE ONLINE.

WE KEEP PEOPLE INFORMED.

EVERYTHING CAN GO TO TRAVISMILLS.ORG AND KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THAT.

IT IS SOMETHING WE BELIEVE IN.

WE'VE HAD SUCH GREAT SUCCESS WITH THAT.

WE WANT TO BRING PEOPLE UP AND SHOW THEM THAT THEY CAN DO THINGS AND BUILD A NETWORK.

HONESTLY, NEW YORK CITY HAS A LOT OF PEOPLE.

AND I HAVEN'T SEEN ONE OTHER AMPUTEES SINCE I'VE BEEN WALKING AROUND THE LAST 12 HOURS.

SO I'M TRYING TO BUILD THAT NETWORK THAT PEOPLE KNOW THEY'RE NOT ALONE.

PEOPLE ARE SCARED TO JUST SAY HELLO.

BUT IF THEY HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, I LIKE TO HAVE THEM CALL ME, EMAIL ME, TALK TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING THEY'RE GOING THROUGH.

I WAS FORTUNATE TO BE A PEER MEMB MENTOR AT WALTER REED.

IT FIRST STARTED OUT, CAN YOU GO AND TALK TO THIS GUY?

THEN IT WENT TO OKAY, WE HAVE JOE UPSTAIRS, HIS FAMILY IS HERE, AND HE'S IN ROOM 830 OR WHATEVER.

AND THEY'RE EXPECTING YOU AROUND 2:00.

SO THEY STARTED REFERRING TO YOU AS THE MAYOR.

THEY DID.

THE BUILDING WE LIVED IN, BUILDING 62, I WOULD STRAP MY DAUGHTER IN WITH A SEAT BELT.

SHE KNEW THE SIGN LANGUAGE FOR GRAPES BECAUSE SHE COULDN'T TALK YET.

SO WE WOULD GET GRAPES, THREE OR FOUR, AND DRIVE AROUND AND STOP IN PEOPLE'S ROOMS AND SEE HOW IT WAS GOING.

I WAS HIGHER RANKING THAN MOST OF THE GUYS THAT GOT HIT.

GOOD, BAD, OR INDIFFERENT, JUST HOW IT WORKED OUT.

ONE OF THE THINGS WE LEARNED OVER THE YEARS IS THAT THE REAL HEROES NEVER THINK OF THEMSELVES AS HEROES AND I KNOW YOU SAID THAT.

BUT I'M GOING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING, TO US AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE YOU ARE.

I APPRECIATE THAT.

THANK YOU FOR SPENDING SOME TIME.

THANK YOU FOR THE GOOD WORK YOU'RE DOING FOR OTHER FOLKS.

A PLEASURE MEETING YOU.

I APPRECIATE THAT.

YOU KNOW, I TOLD THE OTHERS IN THE BOOK, THEY HAD TO WRITE IT SPECIFICALLY AS I TOLD THEM.

I DIDN'T SIGN UP AND DO MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE.

I JUST HAD A ROUGH DAY AT WORK.

I TELL PEOPLE THAT MY PROBLEMS ARE NO MORE THAN ANYBODY ELSE'S.

SO NO MATTER WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH, I DON'T THINK I'M ANY MORE SPECIAL.

I JUST HAVE A PLATFORM TO TALK ABOUT IT.

I'M GOING TO TELL YOUR CLEARY THAT SHE HAS A SPECIAL DAD.

AGAIN, THE BOOK IS CALLED 'TOUGH AS THEY COME' WRITTEN BY A TRUE AMERICAN HERO.

ARMY STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS.

DELIGHTED THAT HE SPENT SOME TIME WITH US.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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