Here is a collection of military stock photos that were so wonderfully terrible that I actually paid money for us to use in this story.

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Let’s take a moment to talk about military archival photos. As a veteran or service member, you’ve seen them in your news feed, on social media, or as unwanted pop-up ads or interruptions to your regular binge-watching. No, it won’t be any holier for you to complain about how some model or company misrepresents our troops by not wearing the uniforms correctly.

In fact, it will be the opposite.

I want to discuss how military stock photos are so outrageously bad, they’re actually pretty awesome.

Yes, you read that right. I, a veteran, love terrible military archival photos, and here’s why: They’re not just bad, they’re regularly bad in the same deliciously regrettable way.

It’s almost as if the models have their own rules that they follow to the letter, except they’re the exact opposite of military regulations. Instead of tight fades and clean shaves, you’re forced to sport a shaggy hairstyle or a giant Viking beard. Neat and tidy uniforms are replaced by loose duds adorned with a hodgepodge of flags, badges and whatever else was laying around at the time.

Oh, and let’s not forget the necklaces, but more on that in a bit.

So here’s a collection of military stock photos that were so wonderfully terrible that I actually paid money for us to use in this story.

Always open this collar. Always.

Totally legit. Shutterstock

I’m going to walk past the two American flags, the missing ID strip and the f’d up blanket and go straight to the pass on this one. It’s almost like there’s a uniform du jour for terrible stock images and that involves having the blouse buttoned up or cinched in as high as possible. I’m not kidding: I sincerely believe there’s a conspiracy going on to flood the masses with photos of soldiers with their collars up. You know what I mean?

There’s a button-down conspiracy going on! Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

And there’s more, like this one, and that one, and damn it, there’s even a gallery of futuristic soldiers and they’re all wearing the same collar. Oh, and on that note…

Even the fake army gets better shit than the fake Marine Corps.

Even in the future world of stock photography, necklaces are still in place. Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

It should be noted that there were no photos of Marines using VR devices as part of a pseudo-futuristic training program. It’s probably because even in the stock photo world, they know the fake Marine Corps won’t get the nice gear until years after the fake Army.

‘Til Van Halen, my brother.

$40 says the guy on the right has a Spartan helmet tattoo. Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

Check out Delta Force Ranger SEAL Team ZZ Top here. Obviously, they’re enjoying a well-deserved light beer (don’t worry, it’s domestic) after defeating the forces of evil and grooming standards. You know how I know these guys operate? Beards. That’s how I know, that and the hodgepodge of tactical loot that was probably stolen from a military surplus store during a clearance sale.

This OEF Wifi is so good.

You know how I know it’s a stock photo? These tents are in far too good condition to be real. Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

“You know what I miss about Afghanistan, that sweet sweet WiFi that I could use to live stream skype calls with my family back home on my tablet that absolutely didn’t get sprayed when my duffel bag was rolling around the belly of a C-130,” said no one ever.

I’m in the army!

There is a Pvt. Buster Bluth in every unit. Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

Pvt. Buster Bluth report as ordered! Not only does he go all out on star patches, he does it while standing in front of the American flag. So much freedom! Which, come to think of it, is kind of an age-old tradition in the world of military photography. Here’s what showed up for “similar images” on Shutterstock:

Thank you for your service military stock photo templates. Screenshot by Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

The totally accidental, but 100% accurate stock photo of a recruiter.

“Yeah, you can totally change your mind if you don’t like basics, absolutely.” Sign here…” Shutterstock

These Military Photos Are So Horrifying They're Practically Works Of Art

Joining the army, bruh, that’s awesome. I just work all day. I can go home whenever I want. And no, this cup is absolutely not full of whiskey and creatine powder to drown my sorrows while I bulk up. Life is Beautiful! I’m certainly not losing my mind trying to meet these outrageous quotas, and no, I certainly haven’t “checked”. What would give you this idea?

Alright so you scored a 31 on ASVAB…hmm how about a contract for 92S, that’s pretty much Special Forces. You will be a war hero! So how about we sign you to a six-year contract? You will absolutely not regret this decision, believe me. Just sign here…

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