"The Soldier’s Guide To PTSD, a No-Sh!t Guide to Reclaiming Your Life" by Virginia Cruse

What We Loved About This Book

In this book, Virginia Cruse, a licensed professional counselor and combat veteran, covers a very serious subject – PTSD – in a way that is easy to read and understand. You don’t have to be a professional counselor to get it. In fact, this book was written for veterans, not mental health counselors. Virginia’s prose is witty, colloquial, and quite funny. The book is filled with metaphors and cliches that only veterans understand but that solidly land the point she is trying to make.

We related well to this author. Her use of irreverent humor kept me eagerly anticipating the next paragraph. At the same time, it was clear to me that Virginia is a knowledgeable support provider who deeply cares about what veterans are going through and wants to help.

As a layperson’s handbook, this work covers a good range of topics, including what PTSD is and isn’t, moral injury, therapeutic methods, suicide, social support and relapse prevention. Virginia takes these subjects head-on, in plain language that doesn’t pull any punches. For each of those subjects, she provides practical advice on how to work through them and get help. The author also provides a list of resources so that veterans can learn more.

One of the most important things this book offers is hope for people struggling with PTSD or moral injury. Virginia describes three scientifically based interventions that will help most people. She is very adamant that veterans can overcome PTSD and should seek help. This is an encouraging book.

Enhancements We Would Add

While I think this is a great book that every veteran should have on his or her shelf, there are a couple of things that I would have like to seen in its pages. Virginia describes three treatments that are approved by the VA and backed by science. There are other treatments that have also shown efficacy that are not part of the VA’s official catalogue. It would have been nice if Virginia mentioned those treatments or interventions. There are also other organizations that provide great mental health service to veterans, many of which are free. These organizations could have been included in the list of resources.

I wish the author cited more research. Virginia provided little in the way of citations so that the reader could verify her claims. As a scholar, I am more interested in seeing the research than most readers will be, but a light sprinkling of citations throughout the book would be helpful for those who did not want to take everything at face value. Just referencing more numbers would help make her case. For instance, Virginia stated that suicide is ”ubiquitous in the military. It is likely that every Service Member read- ing this has lost more buddies to suicide than combat.” That statement makes a great point, but I doubted it until I double-checked for myself and found out that four times as many service members have committed suicide than were killed in combat over the same time period (look the article: Military Suicides Outpace Deaths In Operations Since 9/11 : NPR). Putting those numbers in the text would help solidify her point.

Overall, this is a great book that every veteran should own and read. Virginia’s passion and knowledge is stellar. I’m glad that she is out there helping our brothers and sisters in arms. You can purchase the book through Amazon and other retailers.

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