Jason Kander’s First VA Psych Visit Was Both Sad And Hilarious
“Trauma isn’t like wine. It doesn’t get better over time,” said Jason Kander, president of national expansion at the Veterans Community Project and host of the Majority 54 podcast. New Anomaly co-host Andy Levy on this bonus episode. “It’s more like an avocado, and nobody builds avocado cellars. They don’t hold.
Kander, former Missouri Secretary of State, talks about his experience as an Army veteran turned politician whose post-traumatic stress disorder eventually landed him in a psychiatric ward at a veterans hospital. He recounts his experiences in his book, Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoirs of Politics and PTSDwhich he says is “about someone who has a secret, undiagnosed and untreated psychological disorder and battles it while sitting in the presidency.”
The book also includes that particular anecdote from the psych ward, which Andy asks Kander to tell.
“The very first time I ran for the VA I found myself awaiting suicide in the Kansas City VA ER. And that was at a time when I had decided not to run for president a few months earlier. I was running for mayor of Kansas City instead. And look, everyone in town knew my face by design,” Kander recalled, noting that there was one person who didn’t recognize it.
At first he was relieved, until he realized that the admissions person not only didn’t recognize him, but didn’t believe he was actually trying to run for president.
“So I’m like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, man. I sat for an hour and a half, just me and Obama in his office. And he seemed to think that was a really good idea,” Kander says. “And so this guy sits down, types in his notebook a few times, and then he asks me, how often would you say you hear voices?”
Kander also tells Andy about his experience with the VA, which he says was the “best trauma therapy” he’s ever had, and what he really hopes people understand about trauma after reading his book.
“It turns out that the majority of people who go through treatment and enter the program get to a point where PTSD is not disrupting their lives. I literally didn’t know that. And that’s a big part of why I’ve waited a decade for help. And I think there’s a lot of people doing the same thing and I need them to know, yes, post-traumatic growth is a reality and you can do it,” he says.