Bad stock photos never hurt anyone, but they haven't done a lot of good either.

Sure, there are the occasional horrible stock images that perpetuate negative stereotypes about the U.S. military and veteran community, but those seem to be outliers. On the whole, they're just consistently bad in the same predictable, if not laughable, ways.

And look, it's tough to find that perfect shot. We get it, it's not like the Pentagon or subscription-based services and news wires have vast archives of images showing actual service members doing their jobs, wearing the proper uniforms, and conducting themselves in a way befitting of the service they're in. That'd be too easy. (On an unrelated note, check out DVIDS, the Associated Press, or Getty Images, among others if you're looking for photos of actual troops, doing actual "troop things.")

But sometimes a business, or ad agency, or political group, or misguided news site has to turn to stock photo archives for that one-in-a-million pic — or more than likely, the first one they see out of a sea of millions. And that's how you end up with gems like this:

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Shutterstock

Let's take a moment to talk about military stock photos. As a veteran or service member, you've seen them in your news feed, on social media, or as unwelcome pop-up ads or interruptions to your regularly scheduled binge-watching. No, this won't be a holier than thou rant about how some model or company is disprect'n our troops by not getting uniforms right.

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U.S. Army/Sgt. Matthew Friberg

Veterans are mostly proud of their service. And rightfully so, it’s no small thing to take the leap into the military and all that it entails. But there are some veterans who, well, they’re like that one 50-year-old dude for whom high school was the highlight of his entire life and who references every situation back to “the good old days.” Like that, but, you know, with guns.

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DoD photo

 The Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, or DVIDS to defense and military journalists,  is overflowing with pictures, videos, and news briefings, and serves as an indispensable archive for all the Pentagon's media going back decades.

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