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'Rising Democratic Star' Drops Out of Race, Cites PTSD

Democrat Jason Kander says he's 'done hiding' his post-traumatic stress disorder, depression
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2018 6:29 AM CDT
In this Nov. 9, 2016, file photo, Democrat Jason Kander concedes to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., during an election watch party at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

(Newser) – "I suffer from depression and have PTSD symptoms. After 11 years, I'm finally ready to do something about it." That was the surprise tweet Tuesday from Jason Kander, an Afghanistan war veteran and "rising Democratic star" who'd hoped to become the next mayor of Kansas City, Mo., reports the Military Times. Instead, the 37-year-old, who joined the Army after 9/11, announced on his website he was pulling out of the mayoral race to better deal with the mental health issues that emerged after he served. "I'm done hiding this from myself and the rest of the world," he writes of his decision to more fully address his health, noting he'd taken some steps previously to get help via the Department of Veterans Affairs but "still stopped short," citing his fear of the stigma and how it could affect his political aspirations. "That was stupid, and things have gotten even worse since," he writes.

He outlines his successes over the past few months, including a recent New York Times best-seller and notable fundraising achievements. "But instead of celebrating ... I found myself on the phone with the VA's Veterans Crisis Line, tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts. And it wasn't the first time," he notes. He says he decided to go public about his mental health to help both himself and others who might be similarly struggling. "Once I work through my mental health challenges, I fully intend to be working shoulder to shoulder with all of you again," he writes. Kander, a former Missouri secretary of state who'd made an unsuccessful but close bid for the US Senate in 2016, was considered the favorite in the mayor's race, per the AP. The Washington Post notes Kander has also mulled a 2020 run for the White House. (Veterans are promoting pot to help with PTSD.)

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