KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Not long ago, many in Kansas City thought their next mayor would be rising Democrat superstar Jason Kander.
But, everything changed on a Tuesday in October 2018 when Kander announced he was dropping out of the mayoral race, citing post-traumatic stress.
Kander said withdrawing from the mayoral race would let him "concentrate on my mental health.” And that’s exactly what Kander said he did.
Wednesday morning at the Grand Street Café, members of the Jewish Family Services clanked forks, had coffee and had the opportunity to hear the former Missouri Secretary of State at their Friends and Family Breakfast.
“It’s not a disease, it’s an injury,” Kander said. “If I had broken my arm in Afghanistan and thought I didn’t earn this broken arm so I’m not going to deal with it, by now my arm would be completely mangled.”
Kander served in Afghanistan as an Army intelligence officer. Although he never saw combat on his four-month tour, Kander returned home with anger issues, guilt and nightmares. His biggest fear was being kidnapped.
“One of my symptoms of hypervigilance,” Kander said to the crowd. “Basically, my brain and my body didn’t adapt from Afghanistan.”
Kander spoke about the 12 year struggle he had with his post-traumatic stress.
“You create these countermeasures, without realizing it, to deal with all of the negative emotions you have,” Kander said. “But those countermeasures aren’t smart bombs, so what happens after a decade of that I couldn’t feel anything.”
Kander explained why he dropped from the mayoral race and the impact it had on his long-term political career.
“I was trying to become Commander in Chief,” Kander said. “Suicidal president, not exactly a glass ceiling people are trying to shatter. The thing is maybe if someone had done this years ago, maybe I would have gotten treatment sooner.”
Kander spent time working in Kansas City on the Veterans Community Project.
However, the Veterans Community Project has become something of a political stopping point for Democrats through the Midwest. Recently, both presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke stopped in and Kander appeared alongside them.
For many people, it looked like Kander might make a return to Show Me State politics.
“What’s next for Jason Kander?” the moderator asked.
“You’re seeing it … Veteran’s Community Project,” Kander said. “There’s no part of me that wants to run for office right now. I’m pretty happy where my life is right now.”