HELENA — Maybe you know Bobby Henline through social media - he has more than 1.4 million followers on TikTok and almost 63,000 followers on Instagram. Or maybe you know him from the stand-up comedy stage where he goes by the WellDone Comedian.
The US Army veteran uses his humor and multiple platforms as a way to share his story, start conversations and spread support for military members and first responders.
“You got to share your story because you’re not the only one,” Henline said. “You can always help somebody by sharing your story.”
In 2007, Henline was on his fourth tour in Iraq with the US Army when an IED exploded under the Humvee he was in. He was severely injured with burns covering 40% of his body. The other four men in the Humvee died.
Henline said his wounds from that day go deeper than what is visible.
“Survivors guilt, I know a lot of us deal with that,” Henline said. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned through all this is, if I didn’t make it, what would I want for the ones that did? Of course, I’d want them to not waste that life they’ve been given.”
Henline said that lesson took him years of work, talking with peers and with Gold Star families to learn.
Now he’s sharing what he learned with others, and one way he is doing that is through his organization Forging Forward. Through donations and support, Forging Forward provides retreats for military and first responders. One of those retreats is at Canyon River Ranch in Helena.
“We’re going to be doing some camaraderie stuff, get guys out in Mother Nature,” Henline said. “I learned over the last 16 years of being injured that what helped me was being out in Mother Nature, and what more of Mother Nature can you get than being in Montana. It’s beautiful here.”
Retreats like the one in Helena are meant to give military and first responders a chance to talk and bond. Henline said he learned the importance of peer connections when he was recovering from his burns.
“Just having other burn survivors come up to me in my bed, like, ‘This is what you’re going to feel like, this is what the scars look like.’ Just having that right away helped out,” he said.
Thanks to community donations, retreats are free to the participants. You can find out more about Forging Forward and how you can help on their website.