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“I hope you had this time to heal while you were here with us.”
  ~~Rachel Stroda to Jesse Garza

A special email from Vietnam veteran Jesse Garza
to Ed Nicholson, President & Chief Executive Officer
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.

From: Jesse Garza
Sent: Sunday, November 28, 2010 2:13 AM
To: Nicholson PHW Ed
Subject: PHW

Hi Ed I hope that all is well with you as for me just fine. Carole asked to write about an experience that I had and this is what came to mind. This also allows me to express my thoughts down as my doctors tell me. Wishing you well this Christmas. Jesse

Daily I am reminded of a place far away, a young man of 18 ½ years and never been out of the US. A country I knew nothing about but my country sends me to help the people of South Vietnam. I am proud to have served. A new people, language, food smells, vegetation, the mud, monsoon rain, sheltered only by a poncho and a two man tent. You hear the sound of huey choppers and the pilot yelling Get Out, Get Out, scared, praying, and thinking of family and not of yourself. Hearing the words Medic and screams for Help you yourself need one doesn’t matter you help your brother in need first. All of these things and more are engraved in a young mans mind in just 365 days. Then you come home to what seems like a different country and people. Your pain, your thoughts and memories and struggles are engraved in your head just like your name and social security number. I come home to a country that is different in many ways it scares me to be here. No, one to help you, not even our government hospitals at the time. The VA is a stranger and the doctors could care less. 43 years later.

Today I am reminded of not so far away places Missoula, Superior and Ft. Smith, Montana. Bishop, San Gabriel and Kern, Ca. These are places I have been able to forget my pain, struggles and memories of years past. It is not easy to forget something that has been engraved in your mind but places like these tend to help.

Project Healing Waters has given me this opportunity and time for fishing even if for one day. It allows me to be with people who care and want to help vets. People like Ed Nicolson, Carole Katz and volunteers from the Long Beach Casting Club, Long Beach, CA. Project Healing Waters is therapy for us using our hands, mind, body and soul in putting together our own fishing rod and making our own flies and then to catch a fish with the rod and flies you put together yourself that is a rush. Adrenaline starts rushing through your body for 5 to 10 minutes while fighting a 19 or 20 inch trout on The Big Horn who has just spooled half your line from your reel. Your pain is gone, your mind is free and all thoughts. Your body racing to net the fish faster then what you would do other wise. Then pain in your body and mind comes back but those 5 to 10 minutes of freedom will also be engraved in my mind forever.

Do we ever heal, do we ever forget. No we just cope we go on. Case in point, on October 4 - 8, 2010 I was fortunate to go fish The Big Horn in Ft. Smith, Montana. When I got there I was again reminded that I was home and safe. Our host Mark and Rachael from Montana Fly Fishers are great people who care for veterans. At times I here the words from people like Welcome Home, Thank You for your service or just a salute when I wear my colors. These words are all welcomed and I take them to mind and heart but the most profound words ever spoken to me as we were leaving Ft. Smith, Montana and I will quote Rachael “I hope you had this time to heal while you were here with us.” I treasure these words and I hear them in my mind daily as they help me through the day. Will we ever heal yes maybe one of these days but for now it is one day at a time. Project Healing Waters is a tool and an engine for all vets. Thank You Jesus (Jesse) M Garza 1/22 Infantry 4th Infantry Div. Army 1965 - 1967



Montana Fly Fishers
P.O. Box 7824
Yellow Tail, MT. 59035-7824