Friday, July 24, 2015

This Sexy Photoshoot Is Helping Vets Show Off Their True Selves

Few things can be more traumatic than losing a limb in combat. Unfortunately, that's the reality for many men and women in the armed forces. When arriving at home, they not only have to deal with the emotional and psychological tolls of combat, but they must adjust to their new limitations. As a result, many suffer from depression and PTSD.

Yet some wounded veterans are taking a stand to show that, even with amputations, they can still be strong and proud of their bodies and their service. Photographer Michael Stokes worked with a handful of veterans and produced a book full of pin-up calendar-style portraits, but with a twist: all of the models are combat veterans who have experienced amputations.

It all started back in 2012, when Stokes worked with a veteran who lost a leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Instead of a somber photo session, though, the veteran decided to pose in a confident, powerful way. Soon, others were inspired.

Stokes decided that instead of going the expected route and focusing on the injuries, thus making the lives of the veterans into tragedies, he would work with them to show who they were beyond their injuries.

The project came to be named Always Loyal, and is currently still in the works as more and more veterans offer to be photographed. The brave men and women want to show the world that though they've been profoundly altered by their experiences, they're still full of life and ready to meet the challenges ahead, whatever they may be.

In an interview with MTV, Stokes made it clear that, he's not doing anything but relaying the veterans' message of confidence and unconditional self-love. " Some people will say to me, 'Oh this is really helpful to their self esteem,' or, 'You're making them feel like men again,' [but] these guys have come to me very healed and ready to take the world on. I'm not giving them back their confidence. They already have it." 

Some even opted to pose with weapons, making the statement that although they might be missing some limbs, they're still quite tough.

Some brought in a sense of humor, too.

You can see more of Stokes' photography on his website and Facebook (though he warned that some images may be NSFW). If you'd like to see more sexy vets, you can donate to Always Loyal's Kickstarter campaign and get your own copy.

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