War takes its toll and countless soldiers come out of its ravages with wounds to show for it. But the true warrior wears his scars proudly, showing the whole world that there is honor, dignity and abundant pride when it comes to wounds inflicted in the battlefield. A photographer from Berkeley, California, Michael Stokes, has a book that celebrates these war veterans. Called Always Loyal, the publication depicts numerous battle scarred soldiers essentially naked. They are shown striking suggestive poses, looking extremely fit, and most of the time wearing nothing but a strong sense of confidence and pride.
Stokes involvement with the veterans began while he was working on his last book, Bare Strength. A chapter in it featured veterans Alex Minksy, Brad Ivanchan and Chris Van Etten. He was able to generate $10,000 from sales of the book and he donated the revenues to The Semper Fi Fund, an organization that offers financial assistance and support to injured veterans. “In some ways working with vets is easier than fitness models because they are used to taking order,” Stokes said as he recounted his encounters with the soldiers. “They also don’t complain about anything, ever.”
The new collection, Always Loyal features about 14 various men from the joint military services like the United States Army, Navy and Marine Corps. It also contains participating veterans of The Gulf Wars, including one lady. Most of the models have lost one or more limbs suffered during IED (improvised explosive device) attacks.
The hardbound book will be around 80-96 pages and will feature both color and black and white photos. Each veteran will also have a bio page, and accounts pertaining to his or her injuries will be written about. For Stokes, the books have been unrivalled accounts of the indomitable human spirit.
“Some people will say to me ‘Oh, this is really helpful to their self-esteem,’ or, ‘You’re making them feel like men again. I hear all these types of comments, and the response I have to that is that 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.”
See images from Stokes’ Always Loyal here.