Californian photographer Michael Stokes has produced a powerful book called Always Loyal, featuring veterans of the Gulf wars.
The point of difference is that the vets all lost one or more limbs during service.
Stokes, 52, started the project unintentionally in 2012 when he photographed 26-year-old US Marine Alex Minsky, a Purple Heart recipient who lost part of his leg when his truck ran over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
“At the time I was focused on male, fitness photography, often with an erotic edge, and I wasn’t sure if that was necessarily right for a wounded veteran of war,” Stokes told Cosmopolitan.com.
“So I met this veteran, Alex Minsky, talked to him about different approaches to a portrait session. I noticed that most (amputee photos) emphasised the lost limb, and that the mood was often sorrowful.
“That was not the vibe I was getting from him, so I decided to simply photograph him as if he were not an amputee, photograph him exactly the same way I would any of my fitness models.”
Stokes says people often tell him ‘Oh, this is really helpful to their self-esteem,’ or, ‘You’re making them feel like men again,’” Stokes said.
“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.”
To see more of these brave men and women in all their glory CLICK HERE