After a discouraging trial of attempting to get her husband (a Marine and Army vet who had serves three tours in Iraq) help, Ashley Wise started the ‘Battling Bare’ campaign. Wise wanted to draw attention to the service men and woman struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and other unseen injuries of war.
“Broken by Battle,” “My love is forever,” “To you this I swore,” “Wounded by War, “I will quiet your silent screams help heal your shattered soul until once again, my love, you are whole.”
These words were written on the naked back and arms of Wise in a photo she used to launch her campaign, ‘Battling Bare.”
Hundreds of military wives have taken heart in the slogan ‘Battling Bare,’ pledging to remove their clothes, ink themselves with statements that spread the word of awareness that veterans need help coping with post-war mental wounds.
“My husband battles daily with his demons of war,” Wise wrote on the Facebook page she created for her Battling Bare campaign. “I, and wives like me, have tried everything we know to try to help.”
Wise stated that her husband has been showing signs of PTSD, since he returned home from him final deployment in 2010. She says his condition began to really go downhill last year until he just disappeared to a hotel room with “two cases of beer and all the guns in the house.” When she finally found him, he told her, “Life is just really hard.”
“He wasn’t sure if he could go on,” Wise stated to the Daily News. As he continued to deteriorate, she sought out the military for help, but felt angry and ignored when they charged her husband with domestic assault for a fit of temper she told them about rather than trying to help him with his emotional scars.
“That’s when I said, ‘I feel like streaking the general’s lawn,’” Wise said. “Maybe a naked woman would get the attention.”
Battling Bare has quickly spread. Currently, over 600 people have submitted photos of themselves imprinted with the pledge. Support for Battling Bare isn’t limited to just military spouses – anyone who wishes to submit a photo to the campaign can do so. Wise has transformed the Battling Bare pledge for parents, children, widows and anyone else who wants to take part in supporting the troops (more modest approaches are asked of the younger supporters, for example kids can write the pledge on their feet or hands and teens can present it on their bare arms or legs).
“Getting these guys a safe place to go is one of our primary goals,” said Wise. The website also offers support groups online through forums for sufferers of PTSD and their families to share personal experiences. Wise hopes to one day offer support for children like her three, who have to see their parents struggling and not understanding why they are more anxious, angry, or even more prone to violent outbursts than before their exposer to war.
“It’s been very surreal,” Wise said in regard to the reaction she’s received to the project, not to mention the women who have tattooed her words on their bodies. “It’s blown my mind that something as simple as that would touch the hearts and souls of so many other families that are out there.”