Burn victim and Iraq veteran turned comedian to perform in NB

Wounded Warriors Weekend is a non-profit organization that works to help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by bringing them together for an all-expenses-paid weekend of being in nature, fishing, connecting and healing.

Letters and gratitude abound from soldiers who have had the good fortune to attend one of these weekends, with many saying the event helped them begin to heal.

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The Wounded Warriors Weekend organization is raising funds, in order to help more veterans, by hosting a unique comedy night at the Don Ross Centre Nov. 7.

Bobby Henline is a stand-up comedian, and a Desert Storm veteran who survived a roadside bomb in Iraq on his third deployment there in 2007. Thirty-eight per cent of his body was burned and his head was burned down to the skull. The other four soldiers in his Humvee were killed. He spent six months in hospital clinging to life. Over a year later, his left hand had to be amputated. He has had more than 40 surgeries.

But Henline has a unique ability to see the funny side of things. His occupational therapist pushed him to try stand-up comedy in Los Angeles when he was going there for a doctor’s appointment. The “Well-Done Comedian” was born during an open mic night at the Comedy Store.

Living in San Antonio, Tex., Henline performs regularly at the Laugh Out Loud comedy club there. He has performed at The Laugh Factory, The LA Improve and at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in Las Vegas. He has numerous film and TV credits to his name.

The official bio says, “Bobby believes that God kept him alive for a reason. He believes his mission is to help create awareness for burn survivors, to inspire people to live life to the fullest, and to heal others through his story and laughter. Bobby’s self-deprecating comedic style will leave you in stitches.”

The Nov. 7 fundraiser for Wounded Warriors Weekend will also feature live musical entertainment by Elvis tribute artist Jeff Bodner and Appaloosa, a band from British Columbia. Country music artist and veteran Blake Emmons will also make a special guest appearance. Emmons is the founder and director of Wounded Warriors Weekend.

Emmons knows that, to survive in the field, soldiers have to be “hard.” He says, “We need to know that every man has their head in the game and will not hesitate during combat to do what is necessary to survive, to do what is necessary to keep our friends alive. A split second hesitation often means the difference between life and death. The slightest hint of doubt that a fellow soldier can react in this matter is perceived by those active in combat operations as weakness. There is no room for doubt or hesitation when in combat.”

He believes this need to be strong then precludes veterans from asking for help if they are suffering from PTSD.

“We would rather die than show weakness.”

Emmons lost a friend who battled PTSD on his own for seven years. If he could speak with his friend again, he would tell him, “I would rather have him ask for help than die. That his life was worth more than the pride of being hard.”

That is what drives Emmons, and others like Marlene Oleshko who works tirelessly to organize the North Battleford fundraiser, to help other wounded warriors. “We can’t all know what it truly is to be in their shoes but we can all help by making a donation or attending the event Nov. 7.”

There will be a cash bar available and lunch is provided. The show starts at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available by calling 306-445-7781 or 306-441-9602.

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