TAOS, NEW MEXICO - Out on the Red River, veteran Eric Kirby is going through a boot camp of a different kind, learning how to fly-fish.
"It has some grace to it. It's not like just chunking a lure out there. It takes some practice," he said.
Sponsored by Project Healing Waters and the Amarillo Fly Guys, the trip is supposed to help him unpack some baggage of battling in Iraq.
"You don't ever fully get over being over seas. It always stays with you," he said.
Six other veterans from the Texas Panhandle also went along, each with their own issues.
"Watching friends get hit with the fps and knowing there was nothing you could do," veteran Dana Pesch said.
"You don't have feelings while you're over there. You just kinda shut that off," Mike Meinen said.
"When I first got back I felt real lonely and depressed. I felt no body could understand me," Apolinar Heredia said.
Amazing is the only real way to describe how the water can wash away their worries.
"You can really see that change in their eyes and their smile and how they talk to you. It's a good thing. It's a real good thing," Kyle McAdams of Amarillo Fly Guys said,
First, there's the fact fly fishing isn't easy.
"It somehow focuses your mind just on that thing, and really everything else is pushed aside, so you just got that to deal with," fly fishing expert Taylor Streit said.
But it's more than that. The trips also about bonding
"It kinda helps you know there are other people who have kinda been through the same stuff," Pesch said.
And learning to trust again.
"That force field I used to have around me is coming down," veteran Deb Buntzen said.
As for Kirby:
"I don't ever feel mad or angry out here," he didn't want to leave but says what he learned catching fish, "It makes you feel a lot better about having to go back and deal with just life," He said.
To learn more about Amarillo Fly Guys and Project Healing Waters visit: http://amarilloflyguys.com/