It was like a fairytale when the retired war veteran, Josh Marino, crossed paths with a stray cat, whom he named Scout. As if the universe was conspiring to let the two meet each other, their lives intertwined in the right time and in the right place.
The retired war veteran Josh Marino is one of the many members of the armed forces who came home bearing a wound in his heart that no medical practitioner could heal. Aside from suffering from a brain injury when he was serving as an Army Sgt in Iraq, Josh Marino returned suffering from a severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the former sergeant, waking up every day felt like a living hell. He had difficulty in resuming the life he had led before he was sent to war. He was easily scared and irritable. He felt as if he was like a lifeless person trapped inside a living body.
For the war veteran, life has lost its meaning and so one night, he decided that he had enough- he was more than ready to end his life. With a decided mind, Josh went out to smoke his last cigarette in the rain as he contemplated the life he led.
Lost in his depressing thoughts, Josh was taken aback by the sound of a movement in the bushes outside his home. Trying to decipher what was making the strange sound, Josh heard a little meow. Soon after, an adorable little and fragile looking kitten came out from the bushes.
“He just walked up and started rubbing up against my leg and let me pet him,” Josh said, reminiscing the fateful day he crossed paths with Scout.. “I broke down crying, burst into tears. Maybe he knew there was something I couldn’t quite handle.”
Touched by Scout’s bold approach to him, the retired war veteran began taking an active role in the stray cat’s life. He began feeding the little kitten, whose meal would end by napping on Josh’s homey knee.
“I stopped thinking about all my problems,” the war veteran explained. “And I started thinking about all his problems.”
According to Josh, when the stray cat approached him and rubbed its head against his leg, he thought about the problems that the little kitten could be facing. Although the man could not pinpoint why he felt responsible for the kitten, Josh took it as the universe’s way of giving him a sense of purpose in life.
This routine continued on over the next months. Each day, Scout would come running every time he would hear Josh calling out for him. And in exchange of a can of tuna, Scout would allow Josh to pet him. Because of this routine, Josh found himself looking forward to something every day, which improved his mental health.
Unfortunately one day upon returning from his new job, Josh realized that the tuxedo cat had already left him. Although he was saddened by the disappearance of his feline friend, Josh is still thankful for the cat who saved his life.
“When I found out that he wasn’t around anymore, it devastated me … He helped me realize that I could actually not just care for someone else, but that other people could care for me.” Josh said, painting a picture of how he felt when Scout was no longer around him.
With a heavy heart, Josh accepted the fact that he may not see his precious friend anymore. Thus, his heart almost jumped out of his body out of joy when he, together with his new girlfriend named Becky, stumbled on some cats who needed a new place to call home through an adopt-a-thon program. While walking between the two rows of crates, Josh spotted a familiar paw- one he could never forget!
“All of a sudden a little black and white paw shoots out from a crate and starts smacking me in my left arm,” he said. “I looked inside, it is the same little black and white cat. I opened up that cage, and I pulled him out, and I held him tight.”
Stunned by his stroke of luck and serendipity, Josh knew that he could not let the day pass without bringing his lost friend home with him. Right then and there, Josh and Becky adopted Scout so that the two friends would never part ways ever again.
Keeping Scout by his side did the former war veteran well. Because the paw friend who gave him a reason to continue living was right by his side, Josh worked out religiously, lost weight, quit his vices, got engaged to Becky, and enrolled himself in a master’s degree course in counseling.
Now, the once zombie-living war veteran is full of life and positivity. Looking at Josh now, you wouldn’t think that he is the same man who wanted to end his life. Presently, he is doing his best in helping veterans to heal from the mental and emotional wounds they have gotten out of their selfless service.
“I’m not really able to serve active duty anymore, but working with vets, I’m still serving, just serving in a different uniform.” Josh believes that without Scout, he wouldn’t be able to survive through his darkest days.
“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, he saved my life. He put me on a different path. He gave me the confidence to try and come back from all the adversity I was feeling.” Sadly, Scout has already passed away. But though Scout is not around anymore, the fact does not change, for Josh, he was not the one who rescued Scout- rather it was the other way around.
“Scout was my battle buddy. He saved me — all I did was the paperwork,” The war veteran said, fondly recalling a beautiful memory he would never forget.
Watch the beautiful journey of Josh, the army veteran who found hope and a sense of purpose in the identity of Scout, the stray cat who rescued and saved him from his darkest thoughts. May each and every one of us be as blessed as Josh, who was able to meet the perfect friend just when he needed to!
Photos and Video | Mutual Rescue
[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.]