Army Sergeant Josh Marino suffered a traumatic brain injury when a mortar hit just 10 feet from him during a deployment to Iraq. The soldier came back from Baghdad a changed man.
He developed post-traumatic stress disorder and was emotionally tormented from his time in the Middle East. However, one night, his invisible wounds became too much to handle and he planned to take his own life.
In a video, created by Mutual Rescue, he says: "I didn't want to deal with it anymore. So I took out one of my knives, I set to the side...I wrote a letter up on my computer and set it there on the desktop. And I went downstairs and I walked out the backdoor of the barracks and I smoked a cigarette in the rain. It was going to be my last one."
But as he was taking in what he thought would be his final moments on earth, he heard a 'meow' coming from the bushes behind him. A black and white kitten emerged and began rubbing against his leg.
"I broke down crying, burst into tears," says Josh. "Maybe he knew there was something I couldn't quite handle. I stopped thinking about all my problems and I started thinking about his problems and what I could do to help him.
"Every day I went outside with a packet of tuna in a paper plate. He ate his food and hopped up on my lap. After a little while he recognised by voice. This cat gave me something to look forward to everyday. He didn't see anything wrong with me, he didn't see any sort of flaws or imperfections. It felt safe."
Credit: Mutual Rescue
Scout the cat
Credit: Mutual Rescue
Josh was devastated when, one day, the cat couldn't be found. However, the feline made him realise that he could love something in this world and something could love him back. He started dating a girl named Becky and a few months into their relationship, they walked by a store doing an adopt-a-thon and they decided to go inside.
Amazingly, like a Hollywood movie script, Josh was walking through the aisles until he saw a black and white paw reach out from the cage. Sure enough, it was that same kitten that helped him with his mental health.
"He made me want to better myself," Josh says about the cat, whom he named Scout.
In a bitter twist, Scout developed feline leukaemia and died two weeks after being diagnosed. Josh said: "It hurt so much. I don't go a single day without thinking about him. I think about all the stuff he has afforded me to do. That little kitten helped me realise that I wasn't just a sack of damaged goods."
Featured Image Credit: Mutual Rescue