By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – Comedian Bobby Henline will be bringing laughter to the stage at the Mueller Center Friday Sept. 29 at 7 pm to help raise funds for local veteran support group Casting Vets.
“This is our biggest fund raiser of the year,” said Randy Meyers, Casting Vets board member, “and it will be a fun one.”
Bobby Henline is a U.S. Army veteran who enlisted at the age of 17 and served in Desert Storm. He re-enlisted after 9/11 and on his fourth deployment to Iraq his life changed in an instant. On April 7, 2007, an IED exploded under the vehicle he was traveling in with four other soldiers; Henline was the only survivor.
Henline had burns over 40% of his body. The burns damaged his eyelids, ears and left side of his face as well as damage so severe his left hand had to be removed. With more than fifty surgeries under his belt he embraces life each day.
While in the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Henline discovered laughter as a medicine all it’s own.
“I would make light of myself, joke with the doctors, nurses and physical therapists,” said Henline in an interview with Wounded Warrior Project. “After I had my left hand removed, my occupational therapist told me I should try standup comedy. She insisted. She nagged me and made me pinky swear that I would try it.”
While in treatment at Operation Mend at UCLA, he tried an open mic night and much to his surprise he was called back. After working for a couple years honing his skills at open mic nights, he was steered toward a life of comedy through Wounded Warrior to a program. There, he was paired him with some of comedy’s best like Bob Saget, Lewis Black and more who helped him refine his act and launch him to his first act in Las Vegas, four years to the day from the explosion that changed his life forever.
Now as a well known comedian in his own right and a hefty TikTok following, Henline never forgets his fellow veterans.
He began Forging Forward, The Bobby Henline Foundation which focuses on helping active military, veterans, first responders, and Gold Star families’ access retreats and outdoor motivational and inspirational activities and through the companies ‘Body Shop’ veterans can find access to prosthetics.
While Henline has given himself the moniker ‘Well done Comedian’ he assuredly can whip up some laughter as he has performed to sold out crowds all over America.
“We are so lucky to have him here,” said Meyers, “right here in Hot Springs.”
Tickets are $25 in advance of at the door and there will be a basket raffle and a 50/50.
All proceeds will go toward helping veterans and their families enjoy the great outdoors through fishing with Casting Vets.
Casting Vets is a non-profit formed in 2017 originally formed to help those transitioning from VA programs by giving them access to fishing and relaxation yet it has since grown to include all veterans and their families and has added winter fishing too.
“In the winter folks can be cooped up and it’s so dark and sometimes lonely,” explained Meyers, “there is not so much to do and it can get depressing, so we added ice fishing two years ago. It’s a big hit. Families go out and fish all day.”
Casting Vets tries to help as many veterans in the Black Hills as possible with fishing trips, outreach to the Boys and Girls Club, Buddy Nights for veterans and their families and “someone to talk to when veterans just need an ear” said Meyers.
Casting Vets also acts as a resource to help refer veterans to those who can help them.
“It is such a worthwhile organization,” said Meyers, “the joy is seeing the people the program has helped, helping to keep someone out of harm’s way.”
If you would like to know more about Casting Vets or to purchase a Bobby Henline ticket online visit castingvets.org.