Mayoral Candidate and Veteran Jason Kander Reveals Post-Traumatic Stress, Combats Stigma
Kansas City mayoral candidate Jason Kander dropped out of the race on October 2, publicly revealing his ongoing challenges with depression, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts.
Kander announced the decision on his website, where he told his story in a heartfelt letter. In the letter, he admits to previously downplaying his experiences and symptoms when filling out VA forms online, out of fear that it could damage his career in politics. He writes, “I knew I needed help and yet I still stopped short. I was afraid of the stigma. I was thinking about what it could mean for my political future if someone found out.”
“So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me,” he added. “That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.”
A veteran of Afghanistan, Kander said that he decided to go public for two reasons: “First, I think being honest will help me through this. And second, I hope it helps veterans and everyone else across the country working through mental health issues realize that you don’t have to try to solve it on your own. Most people probably didn’t see me as someone that could be depressed and have had PTSD symptoms for over decade, but I am and I have. If you’re struggling with something similar, it’s OK. That doesn’t make you less of a person.”
In the days since his announcement, Kander has received an outpouring of encouragement from the public. Joe Biden said in a Tweet to him: “Public service takes many forms, and bravely stepping forward today is exactly that. By sharing your story, you are saving lives. Others will get the help they need because of you.”
Thousands took to social media to express their support, congratulating Kander on his leadership, his impactful truth-telling, and his willingness to take care of himself. Still others have expressed their wish that he recover and return to politics when he is ready.
Kander assured his supporters that he was not retiring from politics. “Once I work through my mental health challenges, I fully intend to be working shoulder to shoulder with all of you again,” he wrote.
Jason Kander has shown us all exactly how stigma is eroded, one vulnerable and courageous story at a time.
Here’s what you can do:
- Tweet your well wishes and encouragement to @JasonKander at Twitter, using the hashtag #JasonKander
- Share Jason Kander’s story with veterans and others in your life
- Share the number for the Veteran’s Crisis Line, which is open to non-Veterans, too: