By Hsiu-hua Chao
This young U.S. army veteran suffered serious PTSD after returning home from the war in Iraq. When one day, he decided to end his life, an unexpected “battle buddy” turned up just in time to save his life.
This young army veteran suffered multiple concussions during a mortar attack when he was deployed to the battlefield in Iraq. He later developed post traumatic stress disorder after returning home from the war zone.
After returning Stateside to Fort Riley in Kansas in 2008, Josh said that, for some time, he had to deal with memory loss, concentration, and focus issues.
Since concussions are internal injuries, he felt that other people couldn’t believe or understand him. Then, he fell into despair.
“I thought I was damaged goods,” he said in a film produced about the young man, called Mutual Rescue. “I knew that I wasn’t, and it got to the point where I was ready to end it.”
One night in his barracks, Josh recalled: “I was in a really bad place, and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.” He took out one of his knives and set it to the side. Then he typed up a last letter on his computer and placed it on the desktop before going outside, into the rain, to sit down on the steps and have one last cigarette.
Then something happened that suddenly changed everything. He heard a little “meow” at his feet. A black-and-white kitten emerged from the bushes and rubbed up against him softly.
“He just walked up and started rubbing up against my leg and let me pet him,” Josh said. “I thought, ‘Someone did care.’ Something with a warm heart and soft fur came up to lend a hand, and it really did help.”
“I broke down crying, burst into tears. Maybe he knew there was something I couldn’t quite handle.
“I stopped thinking about all my problems and I started thinking about all his problems.”
After that, Josh didn’t end his life. Instead, he began to take care of the kitten, feeding him a plate of tuna each day. The kitten would run to Josh whenever he called him.
“It was a complete 180,” Josh said. “He restored something in me that was lost.
“He didn’t see anything wrong with me. He didn’t see any flaws or imperfections. It felt safe.”
To Josh’s devastation, one day, the kitten did not appear when Josh called for him.
“He had a serious effect on me. He helped me realize that I could actually not just care for somebody else but other people could care for me,” he said.
Fortuitously, one day, Josh was walking on the grounds of Fort Riley with a woman whom he’d started dating, named Becky, and he crossed paths with the cat again at an animal adopt-a-thon. Immediately, he signed the papers and took him home. Josh named him Scout.
Josh and Becky were later married, and Josh went on to earn his Master’s Degree in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. With his newfound support system in place, he was also able to quit smoking.
Josh began helping other veterans through his support work. “I’m still serving. I’m just serving in a different uniform,” he said.
One day, however, Scout became sluggish, and Josh learned that he had feline leukemia. Later, on an emergency trip to the vet, Scout passed away in Josh’s arms.
“It hurt so much,” recalled Josh. “Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, he saved my life.
“That little kitten helped realize that I wasn’t just a sack of damaged goods … Scout was my battle buddy. He saved me. All I did was the paperwork,” he added heartfully.
Watch the video below:
Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot | Mutual Rescue.