Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects millions of Americans every year, including those who have served in the military. Josh Marino was unfortunately one of these people.
Although a proud member of the military, Josh suffered a traumatic brain injury after a mortar attack while serving in Baghdad.
Josh’s brain injury caused him to develop PTSD.
“A lot of us come home without realizing that we’re bringing the war home with us,” Josh said about being discharged.
Going back to the barracks in Kansas, he suffered from severe anxiety—along with not being able to remember how to do certain things. Josh was in a very dark place, and he thought that there was only one way out of it.
Josh decided he was going to kill himself.
One night, he set a knife near his bed table, wrote a note on his computer, and went outside to smoke one last cigarette before committing suicide. While smoking in the rain, he heard a meow from the nearby bushes. A friendly black and white kitten approached him and rubbed up against Josh’s legs as he kept meowing.
“I broke down crying,” Josh said. “Maybe he knew there was something I couldn’t quite handle.” Josh saw some hope in this new friend of his, and this stopped him from using the knife that night.
He then made a routine of feeding the cat every evening and spending time with him.
“I stopped thinking about all of my problems, and I started thinking about all of his problems, and what I could do to help him.” Josh saw that others may be down on their luck, and this cat, regardless of being a stray, was an example of someone who showed love to him unconditionally. This gave Josh something to look forward to.
Unfortunately, after a while, the cat stopped coming. Josh, although distraught by this, realized that the cat had a bigger effect on him than he had originally thought. This gave him a new lease on life, as he found himself able to care for others and allow others to care for him.
Josh began dating a girl he knew from high school; his life was getting back on track.
Months after his feline friend had stopped visiting him, he and his girlfriend, Becky, came across an Adopt-A-Thon for pets. Many cats and dogs were in cages, waiting to be picked.
Suddenly a black and white paw came out of a crate and pawed at Josh.
It was his dear friend, in the cage! Josh wasted no time adopting him. He named him Scout.
Josh decided to move back to his hometown of Pittsburgh, where Becky still lived. And of course, Scout came with him. And he had the same effect on Josh as he did before the adoption papers were signed.
“I got out on my bike more often, I ate healthy, I quit smoking,” Josh said. “Cause I knew if I had a support network at home, even if it included a cat, then I could just do about anything.”
Josh and Becky got married, and Josh went back to school and earned his Master’s degree as well. His life had been completely turned around since the years prior. He was happier than he had ever been, until one day Scout became ill.
Scout had developed feline leukemia, and he soon passed away in Josh’s arms.
Josh was devastated by the loss of his best friend. But he continues to credit Scout with giving him the hope and confidence to continue living. Had it not been for Scout, Josh possibly would not be alive right now.
Sometimes, it just takes a friend to give you a little push you need to get your life back on track.
Learn more about PTSD here.