Healing Flames Forge helps veterans blow off steam with a hammer and anvil


WOODLAWN, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Forge Healing Flames offers veterans, first responders, frontline workers and others a place to relieve stress through metalworking.

“It’s a place where these people can blow off steam and vent their frustrations by swinging a hammer on a piece of metal,” Rob Duane, founder and CEO, told Clarksville Now. “Hopefully any kind of frustrated and angry energy turns into positive and creative energy.”

Duane is a retired Army Command Sergeant Major with over 30 years of service. He was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq several times before retiring in 2015.

He worked with metal as a hobby during his teenage years and dreamed of turning this hobby into a job. “I like the whole concept of taking a piece of metal and changing its shape and appearance into something else, and I wanted to figure out how can I do that,” Duane said.

Creation of the forge

The idea for Healing Flame Forge, a non-profit organization, came from an episode of Forged in fire aired June 2020. In the episode, two-time champion and judge Ben Abbott donated his winnings to Black Horse Forge, a nonprofit blacksmith in Virginia. The judge described the mission of the forge and Duane took an interest in it.

Duane contacted Black Horse Forge founder Steve Hotz to tour the facility. This tour inspired Duane to build a program similar to Woodlawn on property he had purchased two months prior.

“We were walking through the property a week after this TV show aired, and I was like, ‘I have an idea what I can do here,'” Duane said.

The Forge of Healing Flames in Woodlawn. (Key Jim)

The money to make it possible came from an unexpected loss. In January 2020, Mike Duane, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and the older brother of the Duane family, died after a sudden illness.

Mike Duane’s estate was sold that summer, and Rob Duane used the proceeds to create Healing Flames Forge with his brother’s legacy in mind. A large photo of Mike Duane hangs next to the American flag in the blacksmith shop.

How it works

Sessions are free for wounded warriors, veterans, active duty military, first responders, front line workers and their adult family members and fellow combatants. All equipment and materials are provided by the non-profit organization.

They take place in two parts each Saturday and Sunday. They start at 8:00 a.m., with a one-hour lunch break at 11:30 a.m. Participants returning from lunch and staying until 5:00 p.m. are allowed to participate in open forge sessions throughout the week to hone their skills.

The Forge of Healing Flames in Woodlawn. (Key Jim)

Duane said an average of one to three people show up for each session, but there’s room for more.

“We have eight workstations, and the maximum number of people we have had in the workshop during a single session is five. I look at those three workstations like there are three stressed people out there missing out on that,” Duane said. “I would like to fill the place.”

The forge is located at 3825 N. Old Dover Road in Woodlawn, western Montgomery County. To learn more or donate to Healing Flames Forge, visit healingflamesforge.org. You can register for a session by clicking on “Courses” and following the instructions.


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