“When we asked President Obama who he saw as the future of the Democratic Party, the first name out of his mouth was Jason Kander’s."
Co-host of Pod Save America
After the September 11th attacks, Jason Kander joined the United States Army. As a military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, he investigated corruption, espionage, and drug trafficking–regularly leaving the relative safety of the base while traveling in unarmored civilian vehicles and accompanied only by his translator. He achieved the rank of Captain and was one of ten national finalists for the Reserve Officer Association’s Junior Officer of the Year Award.
In 2008, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. In 2012, he was elected Missouri Secretary of State—making him the first member of the millennial generation elected to an American statewide office. In 2016, he challenged an incumbent U.S. senator but narrowly lost despite outperforming the rest of his party’s ticket by sixteen percentage points. Yet not three months later he founded Let America Vote, a national effort dedicated to ending voter suppression. Let America Vote would later merge with another organization to form the largest pro-democracy political advocacy group in the nation.
In 2018, Jason openly considered a 2020 presidential campaign, having been privately encouraged to do so by President Barack Obama, who stated publicly–in his final Oval Office interview–that Jason gave him hope for America’s future.
However, after a year traveling the country and actively exploring a national candidacy, Jason ran instead for mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. But to the shock of the political world, he abruptly ended his campaign for mayor months prior to Election Day, revealing in a public letter his decade-long struggle with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. Jason admitted that despite the fact that his mayoral victory was all but certain, he had begun having suicidal ideations and found himself on the phone with the Veterans Affairs Crisis Line. He had to confront what he had long been running away from: the undeniable trauma he suffered during his military service—as well as its profound impact on his wife and family.
Jason emerged from out-patient treatment at the VA with an inspiring and powerful message for fellow veterans: post-traumatic growth is achievable and worth pursuing. He is also a staunch advocate for extending mental health care to everyone, regardless of whether or not they served in the military.
Since 2019, Jason has served as president of national expansion at the Veterans Community Project, a non-profit organization serving homeless and at-risk veterans with villages of tiny homes, wrap-around support services, and emergency assistance. In that time, Veterans Community Project has gone from a heralded local Kansas City social service agency to a leading national force in the effort to prevent veteran suicide and end veteran homelessness.
In 2021, after the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan, Jason founded the Afghan Rescue Project to assist in the evacuation of Afghans he had personally served alongside but who had been left behind. Over the course of several successful operations, Afghan Rescue Project played a critical role in the evacuation of over 2,000 Afghan allies who would have otherwise experienced brutal retribution at the hands of the Taliban.
Jason also remains vocal politically, primarily as the host of his popular and award-winning podcast, Majority 54, and as a board member at both Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence and Let America Vote/End Citizens United.
Jason has written two New York Times bestselling books, Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage, and Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD (in which he writes candidly about his years battling undiagnosed PTSD and recounts his experience in therapy with uncommon detail), as well as a children’s book, Courage Is, which he co-authored with his son.
A graduate of American University and Georgetown Law, he is a former Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago and the recipient of an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Georgetown University.
Jason lives in Kansas City with his wife Diana, their son True, and their daughter Bella. In his spare time, he coaches True’s Little League team and plays centerfield for the Kansas City Hustlers of the National Men’s Adult Baseball League.
Does the Jason Kander Story Have a Third Act?
You may remember Kander as the Millennial Afghanistan veteran who emerged on the national stage just under a decade ago. He was the clean-shaven, strong-jawlined Democrat who rapidly climbed the ranks in Missouri politics, and was soon seen as the left’s “next big thing.” READ
Fortune 40 under 40: Government and Politics
Kander first gained widespread attention with a Missouri Senate run in 2016 where he managed to lose to incumbent Republican Roy Blunt by less than three points—in a state President Donald Trump carried by 19 points. He went on to found the voting rights group Let America Vote in 2017. Kander isn’t ruling out politics in his future, but for now, he’s focusing on making significant change at a policy level. READ
One-On-One With Jason Kander
An Afghanistan war vet turned rising star in the Democratic party stepped out of the political spotlight to seek help for PTSD. In his new memoir, Jason Kander opens up about his personal struggles and what’s next. WATCH
From the campaign trail to suicide watch, a rising political star and former army captain quit his political run to battle PTSD. WATCH
Former Democratic rising star and Afghanistan War veteran speaks out for first time about PTSD treatment
In his first interview since he shocked the country last October by suddenly pulling out of the race for Kansas City mayor and revealing that he was being treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, Kander called PTSD a “monster” that sabotages sufferers into torturing themselves. WATCH / READ
Ex-US Army Captain: Troops knew about Trump before article
Jason Kander, a former US Army Captain and Biden campaign surrogate, reacts to a report in The Atlantic magazine in which multiple first-hand anonymous sources said President Trump denigrated US service members. WATCH
How the Strength Myth Crumbles
Andrew Luck and Jason Kander show us how to quit—and walk away with strength.
To Kander, Vice President Joe Biden tweeted that “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.” READ
This Group’s Village of Tiny Homes for Vets ‘Saves Lives’ While ‘Setting Them Up for Success’
Six weeks after touring the Veteran’s Community Project while campaigning, Kander returned to the non-profit and asked for help navigating the Veterans Administration’s red tape to get treatment. READ
PTSD Made Him Walk Away From Public Life. Now He’s Heading Back.
Generations of politicians have assumed that openly acknowledging a psychiatric disorder would be disastrous. Jason Kander is testing that assumption. READ
‘The intensity has not changed’: Jason Kander on the fall of Afghanistan – and trying to get friends out
For weeks the former Missouri secretary of state, an Afghanistan veteran as well as a rising star of Democratic politics, has been working to get Afghans out of the country after its fall to the Taliban. That means working on Afghan time, which means working at night. READ
Afghanistan War Vet Jason Kander Confronts His PTSD in ‘Here. Is. Better.’
Kander talks openly about his condition for the first time in the new documentary “Here. Is. Better.” from Emmy-winning director Jack Youngelson. READ
Jason Kander’s voting rights group to merge with anti-Citizens United PAC
Two influential Democratic-aligned outside groups will officially merge Friday, forming what will likely be one of the party’s best-funded organizations focused on campaign finance reform and voting rights. The groups, End Citizens United and Let America Vote, have already begun to combine staff ahead of filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create a joint PAC, officials with both groups told McClatchy. READ
Jason Kander is back after quietly working through PTSD
Not so many months ago, Jason Kander was spending his life on airplanes. The picture of youth and energy, Kander was in demand from Democratic groups across the U.S., a military veteran from middle America making a powerful case for generational change in his party, possibly with an eye toward a 2020 presidential run. READ
I Suffer From Depression and Have PTSD Symptoms
So after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it. I finally went to the VA in Kansas City yesterday and have started the process to get help there regularly. READ
Jason gives talks on leadership, mental health, resilience, and more.
To learn more, contact Luke Neilssen at email@example.com and check out the BrightSight speaker page for Jason.
In this brutally honest memoir, following his New York Times best-selling debut Outside the Wire, Jason Kander has written the book he himself needed in the most painful moments of his PTSD. In candid, in-the-moment detail, we see him struggle with undiagnosed illness during a presidential bid; witness his family buoy him through challenging treatment; and, giving hope to so many of us, see him heal.
A smart and revealing political memoir from a rising star of the Democratic Party, Jason Kander. Kander’s signature outspoken voice is on full display in his New York Times bestseller, as he guides readers through his own journey from soldier to politician, detailing — often with a dose of humor — the lessons he’s learned along the way.