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.