Jason Kander speaks out about his PTSD in emotional interview
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Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander spoke out about his mental health and military service for the first time Wednesday since he dropped out of the Kansas City, Mo., mayoral race to seek treatment for PTSD.

Kander enlisted in the National Guard following the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and went on to do a tour in Afghanistan. As an intelligence officer, he worked on anti-corruption and anti-espionage efforts within the Afghan government, he told NBC's Lester Holt. 

“Basically figure out which bad guys were pretending to be good guys, which meant I was frequently going out with a translator” to meet with “folks who were sometimes unsavory characters,” Kander said.

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Although Kander was never in “firefights,” he said he still feared he would be “kidnapped or killed” on the job, resulting in nightmares and post-traumatic stress when he returned home to his wife, Diana, and son. 

“I mean, just violent nightmares every night,” Kander said. “A lot of nightmares about being kidnapped. Over time, those evolved into nightmares about people kidnapping my family.”

“I went almost 12 years without a good night’s sleep,” Kander continued. “I’d get up in the middle of the night and I’d sort of patrol my house, ‘cause I was convinced someone was trying to break in.”

Kander described how he found himself unable to keep up running for mayor of Kansas City and simultaneously seek treatment for his PTSD. He eventually called the VA’s suicide hotline when he knew he “didn’t want to leave [his wife and son] alone.”

“I heard that woman’s voice talking to me in a way that clearly I didn’t sound unique to her,” Kander told Holt. “I sounded like everybody else who needed to call and I just … I got scared. And I thought, well, I wanna live through this.”

Kander tweeted the story Wednesday evening, saying: “This is my story. Please don’t hesitate to reply with yours." 

2020 hopeful and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegGroup of wealthy Americans write open letter asking to be taxed more The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate MORE (D) applauded Kander for his “honor and courage.” Buttigieg served as a Navy intelligence officer.

According to the National Center for PTSD, between 11 percent and 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with PTSD each year.

If you are a veteran seeking help you can call 1-800-273-8255.