The heartbreaking story of a U.S. Army veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury and the kitten who saved him

This story about a U.S. Army veteran who sustained a traumatic injury in a mortar attack in Iraq comes with a tissue alert. If you don’t cry over this one there’s something seriously wrong with your tear ducts.

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U.S. Army veteran Josh Marino was on a battlefield in Iraq when he sustained traumatic injuries in a mortar attack. Josh suffered a traumatic brain injury from an explosion not more than 10 feet from him. He also developed post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). Josh couldn’t focus and couldn’t remember how to do things.

His condition worsened to the point Josh decided to end his life. He sat down at his computer and wrote a letter, then took his knife and went outside to smoke one last cigarette. A black and white kitten was waiting outside for him in the bushes. There was a thunderstorm and the kitten called out for comfort. Josh walked over and petted the kitten.

The friendship between the kitten and Josh saved his life. Every day Josh would take a plate and some food outside and feed the kitten. It gave him a reason to live, to think of someone other than himself. He stopped thinking of his problems and started thinking of the kitten’s problems, Josh said.

One day the kitten didn’t answer when Josh called. He thought the kitten was gone from his life forever. Josh was wrong.

Eventually, Josh started dating a girl named Becky whom he knew from high school. A few months later they decided to attend an adopt-a-thon. The couple was walking between two rows of crates when all of a sudden a little black and white paw reached out and started smacking Josh on his left arm. He had found his kitten!

Josh immediately reached inside and picked up the kitten he credits with saving his life. Adoption proceedings were started that day. He named the kitten Scout and took him home after the adoption was complete. Scout helped Josh as he went through discharge proceedings from the military and learned to adjust to civilian life again.

About a year later Josh and Becky were married. Becky was still living in their hometown of Pittsburgh so it was an easy decision for him to decide to move back home. These were good times between the couple, Becky’s three cats, and Scout. Josh even went back to college and earned his degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. Now he uses his training, as well as his experience to help other veterans.

One night when the couple returned home Scout wasn’t there to greet them as he normally did. He was sluggish and taken to his veterinarian to see what the problem was. Scout was diagnosed with FeLV and given a blood transfusion. Josh says that gave the family a few weeks to spoil him.

The day came when Scout couldn’t catch his breath. The time had come to let him go. Josh tells of those final moments

“We tried to take him to the vet. I sat in the back seat with him and before we even made it across the bridge he passed away in my arms. It hurt so much.”

Josh credits Scout with saving his life. He gave him the confidence to come back from all the adversity he was feeling. Thanks to this little cat (and Becky), Josh was able to quit smoking, he started eating healthy and he found a new career where he can help others as he once needed help.

Rest in Peace, Scout. You not only made a difference in Josh’s life, your legacy lives on in the veterans Josh is able to help because you saved him.


Note: Photos screenshotted from Omeleto and PetSmart Charities.

1 thought on “The heartbreaking story of a U.S. Army veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury and the kitten who saved him”

  1. That is beautiful! I have met animals who seem to be angles in disguise. They know exactly what we need and provide it to help us heal. I pray that Josh and Becky find much comfort and happiness. I know Scout would want that.


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