The cliche is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But Robert Scholten’s poignant and personal book, Psalm Twenty-Five & PTSD: A Journey Into the Darkened Realms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Tate Publishing 188 pp., $12, 99, paper) certainly delivers what the cover promises.
The reader is walked through what Sholten calls the “sunken trench” of PTSD alongside Bob, “a gunner on a Duster attached to the 173rd Airborne Infantry” in 1970. Nicknames are essential to this Vietnam War memoir, a revelation to me as a rear echelon Vietnam veteran.
When I began the book, I wanted more background on the author, but as I read on. I could see too much information would have been a distraction from this homily-like treatise. “War changes people, be they individuals or families or communities” is just one of the author’s observations.
Scholten’s honest recounting of his PTSD, as well as his mother and wife experiencing it along with him, clearly illustrates the shelf-life and shared pain caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.
The author shows us that thought processes, prayers, meals–in fact, just about any daily activity we take for granted—can be interrupted by flashbacks to lonely nights in Vietnam where danger lurked. One flashback in which Scholten had an M-79 grenade launcher in his lap ended with the thought that what was on his lap was his Bible .
Now a minister, the author recalls how he has lived with Psalm 25 since age sixteen, revealing that his closeness to God has guided him through most of his life. That includes his months in combat and the present day as he deals with flashbacks.
The importance of this book to veterans and those with PTSD is summed up by the author: “PTSD is a natural reaction and byproduct of experiences in war. For me it was Vietnam.”
Scholten, who had the combat moniker “Preacher Bob, ” adds a concluding prayer which, he writes, can provide comfort to those dealing with PTSD:
“Let me have the privilege to pray with you personally and for anybody else who has taken the journey thus far through the trench of PTSD. We have tasted war with all its terribleness it dishes out to veterans and civilians alike. We despise the flavor it has left in our lives, yet many of our fellow veterans stand ready to go through it all again.”
This thought-provoking volume is meant to offer guidance for those experiencing PTSD. It is valuable and worthy of a place on your bookshelf.