Pet Tales: A kitten saves a soldier's lifePittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Linda Wilson Fuoco
June 10, 2017
After suffering a brain injury in Iraq, Army Sgt. Josh Marino “was in a really, really bad place. I did not want to deal with it anymore.”
Exhausted from his struggle with the “invisible wounds” of post-traumatic stress disorder, he planned to end his life one night in 2008 at Fort Riley in north central Kansas.
“I took out one of my knives ... I wrote a letter on my computer” and went outside to smoke one last cigarette.
Then he heard a soft “meow,” and a small black-and-white kitten emerged from the bushes.
“I broke down crying.... He saved my life ... I stopped thinking about all my problems and started thinking about his problems and what I could do to help him.”
Mr. Marino recounts his story in a 6½-minute-film, “Josh and Scout,” featured on mutualrescue.org, the website of a non-profit organization whose mission is “revealing the impact people and animals have on one another.”
Mr. Marino, 37, is a native of Turtle Creek who now lives in Brookline with his wife, Becky, and their daughter, Penelope, who was born Feb. 24. They have three cats and three ferrets.
After eight years of service, he was medically discharged from the Army in July 2009. He moved back to Pittsburgh, got married in September 2010, and earned a master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. He now works in the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a program operated by the University of Pittsburgh and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It was an honor to serve,” Mr. Marino said. “I am still serving. I am just serving in a different uniform.
“I love my job. I work with people with disabilities every day.”
His counseling includes telling veterans about the kitten who saved him. He directs them to Humane Animal Rescue shelters in Homewood and the North Side to look for animals who need a home.
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Josh and Scout, a Mutual Rescue™ Film
It can be almost impossible to have a positive outlook when all you hear is something negative. Check Facebook on veteran suicides and you'll see what I mean. Aside from it mostly being wrong, there is nothing helpful in "raising awareness" it is happening especially when the numbers are worse that they are quoting.
That is the bad news. Now the good news. Most veterans are living with PTSD and defeating it! They have been living for 30, 40, 50 years and longer after they survived combat. Hell, most of them didn't get help until 2007 when 148,000 sought help within an 18 month window.
Oh, all of them knew there was something wrong, but they didn't know what to do about it. Back then there was a dire need to make them aware of what PTSD was and that help was available. That was already accomplished but too many groups found that making folks aware of the worst was more important that what was actually healing veterans!
Now back to Josh's story. He had nothing to live for and was planning on ending his life. The kitten came to him looking for help and he gave it. It turned out, the kitten he named Scout was just what he needed to find something worth living for...putting the kitten's needs ahead of his own heartache.
Sometimes all you need to know that you can still make a difference. After combat, after risking your life for the sake of someone else, that is a part of who you are.
Can you still make a difference? Yes! Do whatever it takes to heal and then pass it on to others needing to be helped.
Scout saved Josh because he could help. Josh went on and got married and then went to work helping others just like him.
Your story is not on the last chapter and does not have a predicable ending. That ending is one you write yourself and you have the power to change this moment on.
It is time to take control away from PTSD and drive your life toward what is possible!