By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
But for many women, unfamiliar with the horrors of war, it can be difficult to know how best to support their loved ones.
Now one Army wife has developed an innovative online pledge to help others in her position share the burden carried by their husbands who suffer from the blight of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The unique project, featuring dozens of military wives with the pledge written on their bare bodies, has resulted in a beautiful array of photographs showing the bravery of these extraordinary women.
Many members of the military who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan without physical injuries were nonetheless mentally scarred by their experiences.
Around one in five veterans of the last decade's wars is believed to suffer from some form of PTSD.
Battling Bare was created by Ashley Wise, whose husband Rob developed the condition after his second tour of duty in Iraq.
She was driven to despair when he ran away from home and locked himself in a hotel room with a number of weapons.
When she sought help from the authorities, she saw her husband arrested by military police and threatened with a dishonourable discharge.
It was then that Mrs Wise, seeking an outlet for her suffering and a way to support her husband, wrote a message on her back and uploaded a picture of herself in his uniform to Facebook.
The poetic message read: 'Broken by battle, wounded by war, my love is forever, to you this I swore. I will quiet your silent screams, help heal your shattered soul, until once again my love you are whole.
Her words struck a chord with other military wives, and before long she was daubing the same message on other women, photographing them and adding the pictures to the fast-growing online album.
'This is a pledge that you're making for your spouse that, in my opinion, is just as important as marriage vows,' Mrs Wise told CNN.
The pledge is not just personal - Battling Bare is also intended to raise awareness of PTSD among the civilian population as a whole.
'We want to ensure that the stigma of PTSD goes away and people talk about it,' Mrs Wise said. 'That’s really the biggest thing. In talking, there’s healing and not ignoring it. Because we’re ignoring it now, and people are dying.'
Her husband is now working to help rehabilitate injured soldiers on their return to the U.S. - but not every PTSD story has such a happy ending.
Alicia McCoy spoke of her anguish at the suicide of her husband who was suffering from the illness.
'Our soldiers have a lot to say,' she told CNN. 'They have a lot bottled up inside of them, and no one is listening.'