HAWKINSVILLE, Ga. — Whether it's his kids, chickens, or his new venture of raising and selling quail, Tony Mullis finds a sense of calm in nurturing others.
"To try to save that one little bitty life, because it doesn't matter how big it is," he said.
Right now, he has an incubator filled with more than 200 small quail eggs and some big dreams.
"To give my family and my kids more, to give them more than what I've been giving them."
Mullis says it also gives him a sense of self and purpose that he had been missing for a long time.
In 2011, Mullis lost both of his legs in an IED explosion while serving as a Marine in Afghanistan.
"I made a wrong step and ended up taking that blast straight up underneath me."
The birth of his first son and coming home to a hero's welcome motivated his physical recovery, but behind a smile, Mullis faced mental struggles fueled by an addiction to pain killers.
He says that became the real battle.
"They threw me a parade," Mullis said. "Someone like that is someone that should be looked up to, not like I was."
It took years before Mullis could admit that he needed help.
"If it wasn't for my support system that I have, I definitely wouldn't be here, and I'm hoping that I can give that support to somebody."
He's already started by mentoring the two kids of one of his Junior Marines who was killed in action around the same time he got hurt.
"It could have been me," he said. "I took him fishing right down road like I do my kids."
Mullis is also involved with Wake for Warriors, an organization that helps veterans heal through water sports.
With dreams of raising about 1,000 quail at a time, Mullis hopes he can use that as a way to connect with other veterans through hunting and other events.