In 2006, retired Marine Eric Hastings visited the naval hospital in San Diego. The experience changed his life.
"[I met] a young Marine who had lost half of his skull to a penetrating brain injury," Hastings said. "He had lost both legs and part of one hand. He was in this wheel chair, and he was rocking back and forth. He had a leather helmet on, [sitting] in a darkened room, and he wasn't saying anything."
But then the conversation turned to baseball. The man lit up, and began talking animatedly. Then and there, Hastings made a promise.
"If I can get you out of this hospital room and get you to Montana, I can make a difference in your life," he said.
Hastings kept his word.
"It was emotionally overwhelming to see him on the river, catching fish with a smile on his face," he said.
Hastings is the founder of the group Warriors and Quiet Waters, which flies veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan to Bozeman, outfits them and teaches them to fly fish.
"There's a famous quote, and I'm not exactly sure what it says, but basically it's that fishing is the exact opposite of combat," veteran Erik Goodge said. He lost his right eye in an IED blast in Afghanistan. Warriors and Quiet Waters brought him to Bozeman in 2010.
"It's very calming and relaxing," he said. "Whereas with combat you are constantly on edge. It does a lot for these guys."
Goodge and several other veterans returned to the program this year, bringing their wives and girlfriends with them.
"He's everything to me," Helen Riddle said of her husband Scott. "He's my best friend."
Scott Riddle was a combat medic, wounded in 2008. His injuries aren't immediately obvious, but they are severe.
"With all of his issues and injuries and things, he tends to not want to go out very much with other people, but he'll go with me," Helen said. "So the fact that I got to come this year and learn too, now we can go together."
Hastings says fly fishing is therapeutic and gives the warriors something to look forward to.
"What you see is someone walking away from here realizing in many cases that life is worth living," he said.
This year, for the first time, all five of Bozeman's major outfitters and fly fishing companies are involved, sponsoring trips and donating gear. And organizers say hundreds of local volunteers keep the group going, giving their time, money and love.
Warriors and Quiet Waters has also attracted the attention of people beyond the banks of Montana's rivers. James Carafano, a military expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, cites the group as the gold standard -- bringing wounded veterans into a loving, community-oriented atmosphere, and renewing their sense of self-worth.
"A lot of people think coming back from war is getting on a plane and flying to the United States," he said. "That is not what brings you home. What brings you home is when you come back, and the community recognizes you and embraces you and you feel worthwhile again. And that's something you can only do on purpose. It just doesn't happen by accident."
It's that sense of purpose that keeps Hastings going.
"Not every person we get here is going to be missing arms and legs, but they may have been blown up, shot at and hit, and you just can't see the damage that's been done," Hastings said. "Or they may have witnessed as many as a dozen or two dozen of their friends and cohorts die in the process of trying to accomplish a mission set out by this government. They don't ask questions, they just do it and they get hurt in the process. It's up to these American communities to reintegrate them back into the communities from which they came."