Amputee Veterans Reveal Why They Showed Off Their Battle Scars in Latest Nude Photo Shoot
These sexy veterans are back, and they're wearing nothing but their battle scars.
Just when our hearts and loins thought they've had enough, photographer Michael Stokes of Los Angeles is back behind the lens shooting amputees in a steamy sequel to his wounded veteran series, and he guarantees: "Yes, they are nude."
Stokes said he reached out to 13 new veterans to be featured in Invictus, and revisited five models he photographed for his first book, Always Loyal.
Of the 18 veterans he photographed for his series on battle scars, 17 are amputees.
Donny O'Malley, who founded a non-profit to raise awareness for PTSD, said he wanted to channel the invisible effects of battle.
"The mental wounds of war are just as bad, if not worse, than the physical wounds of war," O'Malley said.
Last year, he started Irreverent Warriors, a charity based on comradery and humor to combat the throes of PTSD. He said he hopes his efforts will help reduce the rate of suicide among veterans.
But in general, Stokes said, "the story is all the same. [The wounds] are all from improvised explosive devices. The difference in the story is, did you step on it, or were you in the Humvee?"
For Iraq war veteran Bobby Henline, who is the first of Stokes' models to suffer from extensive facial injuries as well as amputation, it was the latter.
Henline was serving in his fourth tour of Iraq when an IED detonated under their Humvee. Of the five people that were in the car that day, only he survived.
He suffered burns to 35% of his body, and spent the next few years in and out of the hospital getting skin grafts and other procedures.
But posing in Stokes' series was about more than becoming a centerfold. For him, it was about normalizing the image of burn victims, or other veterans with visible wounds to their faces.
"When people see me at first, they're looking at me, they see the wounds," Henline told InsideEdition.com, "but when you get to know somebody or they're photographed like this in a beautiful way, it helps people see beyond that."
In his healing process, he took up stand-up comedy, and eventually pursued a career in that path.
"That's how I dealt with everything — the pain, and letting my family know I was okay — I kind of joked around," he said. "I didn't think it was going to work, but I realized it was good therapy for me to get it out."
Stokes also made it a point to include in his series five British veterans, who acted as allies to American soldiers.
"A lot of Americans are not aware of the sacrifices [British soldiers] made over there," Stokes said. "They don't seem to get the recognition the Americans get."