Only minutes after Jason Kander announced he was dropping out of Kansas City’s mayoral race because of war-related PTSD and depression, public reaction on social media was swift and sympathetic, including a message from former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Jason — 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,” Biden tweeted Tuesday.
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Many supporters lauded Kander, saying he was showing true leadership in admitting to suffering mental illness.
“Blessings for you as you struggle with this. Blessings for sharing and blessings for getting the help you need. We’ll be here when you hit the trail again,” Janet Osborn Knifong wrote on Kander’s Facebook page, where he posted his announcement shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday.
“I wish I would have sought help sooner,” wrote Kander, who in 2006 began a three-month tour in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army intelligence officer, “so if me going public with my struggle makes just one person seek assistance, doing this publicly is worth it to me.”
He included the number for the Veterans Administration crisis line, 800-273-8255.
Within an hour, more than 1,000 comments of support flooded his Twitter page, and more than 500 comments were made on his Facebook page, many referencing Kander’s openness and honesty in addressing his post traumatic stress disorder.
“There are so many of us out there functioning after PTSD with associated conditions,” Lucia Harper tweeted. “Keep on keepin on Jason …”
Wrote another in support, “Thank you for being open and publicly vulnerable. Even in working to take care of yourself, you’re helping others…“
On Facebook, Cara Coon wrote, “As the wife of a Marine Corps Veteran who suffers from PTSD, I thank you for your honesty, I thank you for your openness, and I thank you for your courage. You’re one of the few politicians that I have major respect for. I hope this is just a step back to pause on your political career, because our country needs more people like you!”
One Twitter commenter noted, “As a psychiatrist I can tell you that you likely saved at least one life today with your honesty and courage …”
Other veterans suffering as Kander has are grateful that the politician came forward. “Right there with you, brother. Been going to therapy every week at the VA. Good on you for putting it out there to lessen the stigma for our sister and brothers who might be struggling too.”
Others thanked him for sending a message that goes beyond PTSD suffered by veterans.
“Thank you for sharing and breaking the stigma not just veterans face regarding mental health, but all Americans,” one wrote.
A repeated theme was the hope that Kander might return to politics after getting the help he believes he needs. He said he has experienced depression, nightmares and suicidal thoughts in the 11 years since leaving Afghanistan.
“I wish you full health, peace and happiness. And when you attain those, we’ll be eager for your return to politics,” well-wisher Michelle Hylton wrote.
Sarah Kendzior tweeted, “Take care of yourself, We will all be here for you when you are ready to come back.”
Supporter Rachelle Morgan’s Facebook post reflected the sentiments of many. “You are showing leadership right here, right now.”