Jason Kander doesn't have to 'earn' his diagnosis, and neither do you.

Matt Saintsing
October 02, 2018 - 5:48 pm

(Photo by Whitney Curtis/​Getty Images)


Army veteran and Democratic Kansas City mayoral candidate Jason Kander announced he would suddenly end his campaign to focus on his mental health. In doing so, he touched on a subject rarely talked about in veteran circles: the guilt of getting help. 

In his medium post on Tuesday, Kander admitted he mounted his campaign while at the same time denying his post-traumatic-stress. “So many men and women who served our country did so much more than me and were in so much more danger than I was on my four-month tour,” he writes. 

He couldn’t have PTSD, he says, since he didn’t “earn it,” as if the ailment presupposes some unknown rubric where war-time veterans continuously measure themselves against those who have suffered more. 

Sadly, there will always be someone worse off than you, someone, who was in a more dangerous area or time, but if everyone operated under those self-inflicted constraints no one would seek help and the veteran suicide rate, which is already far too high, would surge even more. 

But with Kander’s candid assertion that if he— a former Army intelligence officer who served a four-month tour in Afghanistan just over a decade ago—continues to deal with post-traumatic stress and depression, others who have similar experiences should not sell their fights short. 

He acknowledges that “by all objective measures, things have been going well for me the past few months.” Indeed, the former Missouri secretary of state and 2016 Senate candidate does have some remarkable laurels on which to rest his hat—including being a New York Times Bestselling author and president of the political action organization Let America Vote. 

Here’s the thing though, PTS doesn’t care about your resume. There isn’t a magic bullet of accomplishments that can whisk away war-trauma. For many of us, it’ll be there forever as we have our good and bad days. 

He says he went to the Kansas City VA on Monday and had started the healing process. 

“I’m done hiding this from myself and from the world. When I wrote in my book that I was lucky to not have PTSD, I was just trying to convince myself," he writes, mentioning his memoir “Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage.” 

But still, he has nightmares and battles depression.

"Once I work through my mental health challenges, I fully intend to be working shoulder to shoulder with all of you again," he writes.

Decisions such as these do not come lightly. He's a candidate who was not only a favorite for the seat he sought but as Politico aptly points out, was on track to raise more money than any other mayoral candidate of Kansas City in a single quarter. Ever. 

But all of that, while impressive, is immaterial. Depression, PTS, and other invisible wounds of war don’t give a shit about your accomplishments, your social stature, or your individual combat experience. 

Get the help, even if you think you don’t deserve it. You do, I promise you, you do. 

If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, there are helpful, qualified VA responders standing by to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. 

      Contact us about this article or share your story at gethelp@connectingvets.com.