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I’m still nervous about going out in public. Since my infection, the left side of my face is noticeably different from my right. My left eye is slightly smaller than my right eye, now. I have quite the gnarly scar on the left side of my nose. But what I have gone through is nothing compared to what some of our vets have experienced, as illustrated by photographer Michael Stokes . . .

The 52-year-old photographer is publishing a Kickstarter-funded coffee table photography book entitled Always Loyal. It captures images of veterans who’ve lost limbs and suffered extreme scarring as a result of fighting in wars for the United States. The subjects pose with guns or flags, and sometimes nothing at all.

I am in awe of every single veteran who had the testicular fortitude to participate in this project. When I see what these brave men (and a few women) have gone through in service for our country, when I see the confidence they’ve protected (or resurrected) after their injuries, it puts my cosmetic concerns into their proper perspective.

The book makes an important point about how we view veterans. We should not ignore them, or pretend they don’t exist, no matter what they did in uniform or how it affected them. It’s not simply a matter of saying “thank you for your service.” We need to look them straight in the eye and acknowledge them as individual, unique human beings. Americans who have just as much to give now as they did during their service to our country.

Every scar has a tale. And every human has some burden to carry. Some more than others.

H/T [Daily Mail]

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  1. When my kids were smaller, they would shout “LOOK, DADDY! THAT MAN’S A CYBORG!” or “IS HE A REAL PIRATE?!” To a man, the wounded vets laughed it off and would show off their prosthetics. They may have been embarrassed or hurt, but they didn’t show it, and what’s more, they opened the door for me to talk to the kids about what our servicemen and women do. Now they’re older, and they help a wheelchair-bound vet walk his dogs.

    • While in Iraq we often made morbid jokes about what we’d do if got a piece blown off. I was a fan of getting a legit peg leg or hook if it ever happened. Luckily it didn’t.

  2. Thanks again to our veterans for their service. They deserve much better then what our country gives them and what our president (in name only) tries to take from them.

    I’ve got visible scars, but nothing like a lost limb. Personally, I think scars are cool. The “flawless” look does nothing for me. It’s an empty fantasy created by makeup artists and computers. I’d rather be in the honorable company of a few veterans than starved, vacant models of questionable moral substance.

    Godspeed to our wounded vets.

    • “Thanks again to our veterans for their service. They deserve much better then what our country gives them and what our president (in name only) tries to take from them.”

      Same goes for our LEO’s.

      • That’s pretty low, using the military’s real sacrifices to cover up LEOs violating their oaths to uphold the constitution. I thought I’d seen enough cop fan boys, but this is a new low.

        • So are you saying that, as a veteran, I’m not allowed to appreciate the sacrifices that LEO’s make to keep my family safe? I think you’re the one who is pretty low. There are many parallels between servicemen and LEO’s. Both make sacrifices for your protection. Both spend a lot of time away from family. Both put their lives on the line to help keep others safe. Are you so blinded by the actions of a few bad cops, that the MSM hypes 24/7, that you can’t see the very real good that the vast majority of cops do? Maybe next time you should think before you hit post.

          P.S. Your message seems to imply that you thought my message was disrespectful to veterans. Seeing as how I’m a veteran, with my own scars, I’m telling you it wasn’t.

      • Thank you, sir. Try not to get too upset about TTAG comments – there’s a lot of cop bashing on TTAG. Some deserved, some not.

  3. Sometimes I feel like those of us who suffered from non-visible wounds (blast/overpressure, spine, and closed-head trauma for example, as in my case) are treated like malingerers and cry-babies by the VA, employers, or even other vets who’ve lost limbs, been shot, or caught shrapnel….. like it only counts if we’ve been awarded a Purple Heart.
    I’m sorry, but this is a rather sore topic for me. But the VA docs are the worst offenders by far, which is yet another reason why I stopped going to them and did physical therapy on my own.

  4. I don’t have a problem with the vets posing and the photog snapping away.
    I have no problem with the kickstarter, the book, or anything of the sort.

    But wounded vet or not, I do have a problem with naked man ass all over my facebook wall. I’ve been blocking people for months over this because I’m “anti nudity in a PG13 social media” kind of guy, and when I mention that I don’t want to see naked dudes all over my wall, people tell me I am “Anti-veteran”.

    I don’t care what anybody did in their life, I don’t want to see bare asses on FB.
    “But they were wounded, and they are so brave!”
    Cool, can he be brave with pants on?

    I mean really… women can have their accounts banned for a breastfeeding pic if it shows even a hint of nipple. Why is this form of nudity any different?

    • I’m with you on this. If these were pictures of vet’s who were being proud and unashamed of their injuries, that’d be one thing, but this is a little much. Too many prefect physical specimens, besides the amputee, posing nude holding their junks. That’s more pin-up that simply brave, proud. I’m not intered

      • Please forgive my typos, I was typing on my phone with one hand, I accidentally hit send while I was trying to proofread it. I tried to edit it, but apparently my corrections didn’t post.

        • I was typing on my phone with one hand

          Considering the subject you are commenting on, one wonders what the other hand is doing…

  5. That gentleman in the picture looks to be holding my mossberg shotgun. He can keep it for as long as he needs it.

    And if he really needed one I’d be proud to box one of mine up and send it to him.

  6. Good article. God bless all our vets from every war, and God bless America, this country is still the greatest country on earth. Always has and always will. Not even Obama can destroy it. Though he tried awfully hard.

  7. Scars show that you LIVED your life. A perfect corpse is a sign of a wasted life. I’m covered with scars and will make a fugly corpse. But, oh the stories they’ll tell!

    • I had heart surgery as a baby that left a scar on my back that stretched out as I grew up, and it still looks gnarly and recent. I’ve been tempted oh so many times to tell ladies at pool parties about the day I fought off a shark in Florida or some junkie took a grazing swipe at my back with a meat cleaver, but I’m an honest man and thus always revert to the truth, which still makes for a great story. “A perfect corpse is a sign of a wasted life,” I like that a whole lot.

  8. I’m thankful I don’t have any reason to receive disability income from the VA, but I have too many friends who do. Or worse.

  9. My step dad is a WWII vet and sucks at computer, but I know his opinion because he’s shared it enough…

    The only reason a Veteran should be embarrassed of his prosthetic is when someone thanks him for what he gave, because he’s the one that got lucky and got to come home.

    My step dad is only embarrassed when people call him a hero, because the real ones never came home.

    He likes to wear his WWII Vet hat, but he always ends up taking it off when people praise him or thank him.

    But nothing makes him happier about it than a child saying something funny about it. The little voice is the only one that makes it worthwhile.

  10. 62 now, former EMT and 30 years ER nurse. Trust me people, EVERYTHING leaves a scar. Most people don’t realize it till aging and wear and tear make them show. No matter how you earn your scars, take pride as they are badges proving you overcame a challenge. Veterans even more so! They earned them protecting our rights. We owe them respect.

  11. Sara, it takes time to get used to change. Hope you read the above posts. You are still you, just a little body damage. That’s life. Don’t isolate yourself because of it. Take pride in your victories.
    How do you feel when you see a person with scars in public? Do you laugh and ridicule? You admire their courage I bet. When you go in public, that’s how people will treat you! It takes time to accept, but it’s true.

  12. I can’t believe how close I came to being in the same shape as the guy in the photo. When our ship was hit by shore batteries off the Korean coast, in 52, I was very close to the shell entry point, but escaped injury. The guy close to me didn’t! He died a little later.
    I think about that day often, and I wonder why I’m on top of the soil, and my shipmate is on the opposite side.

  13. Sara, ok its probably a little crude, but for what its worth,
    until you mentioned it, I hadnt noticed anything ‘wrong’ with your face, or eyes…
    dunno why, perhaps its that thing women say- about guys,
    “my eyes are up here” …

    Seems to me you are blessed, as I am guessing your husband would agree…

  14. For all the Draft dodgers , cowards and all the rest that did not serve F**K Off!
    you arm chair mouths got it all figured out don’t ya, most of you MF”s don’t deserve the air you breath! You don’t have a clue! we Vet’s do not and will not take any shit from you mealy mouthed twisted ones! we did when we came home { Vietnam} NO F*****G more, the old rule still applies, lead, follow or get out of the way of real Men and Woman that have served!
    Getting home, spineless Limp***ks run off at the mouth! Saying what they do not know, concerning the Services! Every wonder why a vet seems too snub people, he or she does not have time to in indulge in superfluous BS.
    Veterans were promised certain benefits for their Service! I guarantee that none served harboring the thought they would like to get discombobulated just too get those Benny’s, as far as the President being CIC of the armed forces, Live with it, The UCMJ has a Law, you can disobey an unlawful order! Semper Fi, to my Marine Brothers, Fair winds and following Seas to my Navy Brother and Sisters

  15. “The book makes an important point about how we view veterans. We should not ignore them, or pretend they don’t exist, no matter what they did in uniform or how it affected them.”

    We should perhaps also stop creating more of them.

  16. In the book Voices of the Pacific, the Japanese had a big Banzai attack against the Marines on iwo Jima. The Japanese were all shot down and the Marines were wigged out. One of the Marines (who had never smoked before) was chain smoking and his buddy said that smoking was hazardous to his health. The chain smoking Marine replied that all of Iwo Jima is hazardous to your health.
    War may be hazardous to your health.
    The World War I soldiers did not call the front trenches the mincing machine for nothing.
    My own attitude toward war is like the sign on a hill in the A Shau Valley; Hamburger Hill was it worth it?

  17. Heh, someone deleted a bunch of comments after the thread has slipped off the front page. 🙂

    More dead soldiers please.

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