Mini-Episode: In This Together, with Jason Kander
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This Memorial Day, Andy speaks with veteran and politician, Jason Kander. Jason has long been candid about his experiences with PTSD but also how post-traumatic growth is possible. He and Andy talk about challenging assumptions about what’s appropriate to feel, accepting help, and how COVID-19 has been so traumatizing for people. They also discuss voter suppression and the importance of making sure everyone has a voice in American politics.
Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt, and find Jason at @JasonKander on Twitter and @jasonkander on Instagram.
In the Bubble is supported in part by listeners like you. You can become a member, get exclusive bonus content, ask Andy questions, and get discounted merch at http://lemonadamedia.com/inthebubble/
Check out our fantastic show sponsor this week! Teladoc provides access to certified doctors from the comfort and safety of home. Register now at https://www.teladoc.com/
Here are some other important resources from today’s show:
- Learn more about protecting voting rights and support the work of Let America Vote here: www.letamericavote.org
- Check out Veteran’s Community Project and find out how you can support their work here: https://www.veteranscommunityproject.org/
- If you or a loved one is in crisis you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- Jason’s book Outside the Wire is available now: https://jasonkander.com/outsidethewire/
- Jason created a podcast with some incredible resources for talking to friends and family across political divides. Check it out here: https://crooked.com/podcast-series/majority-54/
- Jason mentioned the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger. You can find it here: http://www.sebastianjunger.com/tribe-by-sebastian-junger
[00:42] Andy Slavitt: Welcome to In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt. Today we have a great conversation for you with a guy named Jason Kander. I think most of you might know who Jason is. If you don’t, he is a veteran, he was a politician with one of the brightest careers that I think anybody had ever seen. And then one day he dropped out of political life announcing that he had post-traumatic stress disorder. And he did this very publicly. And he was sort of one of these people who I think people felt, well, this guy has got it all. And he talked about how difficult it was to just even acknowledge and come to grips with that. We’re gonna to talk a little bit about that today. And I think it’s important in the context of I think some of the real trauma that people have experienced and are experiencing with Covid-19. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to have Jason on. A couple other reasons, in addition to the fact that I just like him and that you will, too, he has got a project ongoing that he founded towards voting and voting rights. And as we move towards the election and think about vote-by-mail, that I think will come up in the conversation. And he’s a bridge builder. I mean, he’s got strong political views, he’s a politician. But I think he’s someone who appreciates a lot of what we have in common. So for those reasons, I thought it would be great to have him on the show. So without further ado, here’s our conversation with Jason.
[02:09] Andy Slavitt: Hey, Jason.
[02:10] Jason Kander: Hey, how are you doing?
[02:11] Andy Slavitt: Good. Hey, here’s my son, Zach. He’s 18 and he’s my co-host.
[02:18] Jason Kander: And is that a Warton shirt?
[02:21] Zach Slavitt: Yeah, it is. Next year will be my freshman year.
[02:26] Jason Kander: I hope you get to see campus.
[02:28] Andy Slavitt: You have little ones at home?
[02:30] Jason Kander: I have a son who’s six he’ll be seven in September.
[02:35] Andy Slavitt: Excellent. How’s he taking the whole coronavirus episode?
[02:37] Jason Kander: Pretty good. I mean, he’s been very patient, but his patience with the whole distance from his friends thing is wearing pretty thin.
[02:48] Andy Slavitt: It’s tough. He’s gotta hang out with his parents.
[02:50] Jason Kander: Yeah. I mean, so we’re doing our best to, like, be his playmate. But it’s hard on everybody a little bit. But it’s also super fun.
[02:56] Andy Slavitt: Yeah. Yeah. Playing with a six-year-old is probably a different challenge than playing with an 18 year old. I’m constantly getting my butt kicked at whatever game Zach and I play together. We played pickleball the other day. Have you played that?
[03:10] Jason Kander: No, but I’ve seen it. And I’ve got a friend who owns a pickleball place right before the zombie apocalypse, I kept meaning to do it. It looks like a lot of fun.
[03:16] Andy Slavitt: It is fun. It is fun. I know I’m an old man because you can’t imagine sweating that much from pickleball. Zach is like, this is exactly like ping-pong! I’m like no, this is like tennis. So, Jason, let’s just start by painting a quick image for folks of your life. You got a little one, what’s the imagery of the Kander family during this, as you called the zombie apocalypse. I like to think of it as to take a month or two off.
[03:44] Jason Kander: Sure. It’s slightly less drastic. I mean, you know, you got to preface it with. We’re super fortunate in that, you know, while it’s affected my wife’s work, my work still continues, so my income is unchanged. And on top of that, frankly, we were fortunate and in a pretty good position with some savings before that. So we are very conscious of the fact that we’re among, you know, not a very large group of Americans who are able to weather this without a great deal of anxiety on the financial side. And so having said that, the upside to it has been that it’s sort of a gift in terms of my relationship with my family, and particularly for me, because about a year and a half ago, I started a bunch of therapy for post-traumatic stress. Did that for about seven months related to my time in Afghanistan. But prior to that, for about a decade, I had basically a complete inability to be present with anybody, including my family. And just because of intrusive thoughts and all sorts of other things going on for me. And so this time has made me even more grateful for the work that I put in to healing, because being able to really be present and really feel my own emotions and enjoy being with my family during this period where we’re together all the time has been a real gift.
[05:05] Jason Kander: And so on the not so fun side is the stuff that like, you know, my son, he gets kind of lonely. You know, I mean, he misses his friends. He’s got a really tight group of friends and also all their — you know how it is when your kids are young — all his friends’ parents are our very good friends. Right. So it’s almost like your kid goes to kindergarten and picks who your friends are going to be for the next 10 years, you know? And fortunately, he picked some great families. And so it has been hard for us to not all get to hang out together. Zoom and all that stuff has made it a little easier. He’s got a great school, great teacher.
[05:38] Jason Kander: But, yeah, he’s been really patient about the fact that we’ve tried our best to be his playmates and his teachers, you know, school, homeschool or virtual school or whatever, just ended on Friday. But the bummer stuff is like I’m the coach of the baseball team for, you know, his friends. And like, we just had to make the decision that we’re not going to try and do a baseball season this summer. Same with the summer soccer, all that stuff. So that’s a bummer. But I think we’re making the best of it. We’ve crushed Zelda, I’ll tell you what. Every day, he asks me four times a day, dad, what’s our what’s our plan for Zelda today? And I’m like, buddy, we got to go an hour without talking about or playing Zelda.
[06:20] Andy Slavitt: Well, I want to pick up on the thread since you mentioned it around PTSD. You were, and I think you still are, considered by many people to be a political up-and-comer, if you decide that’s the direction you want to take your life. Just very talented, thoughtful people relate to great values. And you were in the middle of a campaign for mayor, which would seem like it was headed the right direction. And then you suspended the campaign because as you mentioned, you had been suffering from PTSD. And, you know, my heart broke for you, Jason, because I can imagine how — I was just picturing what your last couple of days before that must have been like. And how much, well, I mean, how much like I try to create an image of myself that I convince myself of who I am. And it works sometimes. And then when it doesn’t, it’s not a good feeling. So I was thinking about this moment of acceptance. And then I’d say this really for the benefit of people who are out there listening to whom this is a hardship. What they’re going through. And when it piles up, the financial, the health, the uncertainty, those days can be tough. How would you talk about your experience and relate it to folks who are able to put themselves in those shoes?
[07:40] Jason Kander: Yeah, there’s a few things related to Covid that, you know, just a few things that I’ve learned that have been helpful during this period in no particular order. You know, when this all first started and we particularly didn’t really know what the rules were in terms of contracting the virus, how you would and wouldn’t get it, you know, all that uncertainty, especially at the beginning. I can remember, you know, going to the grocery store and being really surprised at how incredibly anxious I was. And then realizing, thanks to the therapy that I did last year and the tools that I’ve acquired, realizing that I was having a post-traumatic stress response. That for me was an enemy that I couldn’t see, which as somebody who served in Afghanistan and particularly as an intelligence officer out there meeting people and wearing street clothes and sneaking around or whatever, I was not giving myself credit for what a triggering experience going to the grocery store could be. But much like I learned in therapy, the more I did it, the more comfortable I became with it. You know, one of the things that I did in therapy was prolonged exposure therapy, which is a big part of why I now can go to a restaurant, when you can go to restaurants, and sit with my back to a door. That’s why I can be in a meeting and have people sit behind me now. And stuff like that that I wasn’t able to do for about 10 years.
[09:03] Andy Slavitt: And can you explain prolonged exposure therapy? Give it a nutshell.
[09:07] Jason Kander: It’s all the stuff that you’ve been avoiding because of your trauma, going and very purposefully doing it. And that’s one piece of exposure therapy, the larger part of it actually is sort of diving into your trauma, talking about it a lot. So that it takes the pain and venom out of it. So like for me, it was sitting with my therapist and just retelling stories, you know, times when I was in a very dangerous situation, things like that, and retelling them over and over again and then recording them on my phone. And then in between my weekly therapy sessions, my homework was I had to put on earphones and go to a quiet place, close my eyes, not do anything else, and sit and listen to 45 minutes of myself retelling the story. I had to do that every day. It was very difficult to do because it was obviously not the most fun stuff. And you would have some reexperiencing that you experience, for lack of a better word. And so all that was very difficult, but it was very healing. And it sort of trained me to be able to recognize, oh, I’m having some sort of reexperiencing sort of trigger from doing things like going to the grocery store or from my getting the groceries and washing them and all that stuff. That sense of needing to protect my family, the people around me. And so I just realized, like, I just need to keep doing it. I need to keep doing it. I need to not avoid this feeling. And now if I need to go to the grocery store, if I need to do something, I don’t at all experience that. Not at all. But like it’s nowhere near what it was. It’s very tolerable. And so, you know, you don’t have to have been a combat veteran to encounter that problem.
[10:44] Jason Kander: I mean, anybody who’s had any kind of trauma — one of the things I learned — and this would be the second big thing that I can relate to Covid — one of the things I learned in therapy is that your brain doesn’t, first of all, rank your trauma against other people’s. Your brain only knows what you experienced. So it doesn’t care. If you’re looking at it going, OK, well, that guy was in a war and I was in a car accident. They’re not the same. They are the same because it’s trauma. And your brain didn’t experience war, so your brain is not making the comparison. Your brain just knows what it experienced. And on top of that, because you had this traumatic experience, whatever it is, your brain has a tendency to view all things that create anxiety or drive adrenalin or whatever — anytime you think you’re in danger or worried about something, your brain goes, oh, we might die.
[11:32] Jason Kander: It just shoots right to that place because you, at some point, might have experienced something very traumatic. And it’s why looking back, for me and I realize, you know, post therapy, I can look back and see that there were times in my life where, you know, things seemed to be going great. But I would say to my wife, “I feel like I’m dying.” And she understandably couldn’t comprehend what I meant. And now I look back and I realize it’s because I didn’t actually have the capacity to process that sort of thing in any way other than “I might die.” Because I had at points in my life where I thought, “I might die today. I might not get out of this room.”
[12:09] Andy Slavitt: That was the language you had.
[12:11] Jason Kander: Yeah, and it was like it was what it felt like. It was just the, you know, 0 to 100 scale, like if you have post traumatic stress, like your body has a tendency to shoot to 100. And that’s no longer the case for me. But I tell you that to say that for advice to give people, recognize that if you have any kind of trauma and you’re having difficulty during this period, it’s a waste of your time to go, “this is nothing like that thing that happened before. I don’t have any right to respond this way.” Well, your body might be responding that way because it doesn’t know that. So you have to process this.
[12:41] Andy Slavitt: Well, you wrote about feeling like you didn’t have the right to have PTSD. And this thing we do where we judge ourselves for our feelings, and either think of ourselves as a failure for not being some image we have or ourselves. We use words like “I should be stronger than that.” Or “nothing really that bad happened to me,” like you just said. And from what I understand from experts that I’ve talked to is that prolonged trauma, or multiple trauma experiences without any sort of acknowledgement either by you or the people around you has a significant effect.
[13:25] Jason Kander: Yeah. It’s an injury. I mean, trauma is sometimes it’s a physical injury, but in addition to that, it’s a moral and emotional injury. And you’ve got to think of it like any other injury, because if you broke your arm and then you went like, it’s not that bad of a break, and you did what I did with my injury, which is you waited almost 11 years. Your arm would be pretty mangled after 11 years. And, you know, I heard after my announcement about when I stepped back from everything in October of ‘18, I didn’t listen to much news, or watch much news about me. But I did listen to a couple of experts talk about my announcement. And one of them said something that really stuck with me, which is, you know, either you deal with your trauma or your trauma deals with you. And that’s what had happened to me. I had just been running from it for so long and my trauma was dealing with me. I went, you know, almost 11 years going like my version of combat wasn’t real compared to other people. And the thing is, for a soldier, one of the worst possible things you can do is steal valor, is to claim an injury or commendation or something that you didn’t do. And I was just personally, like my personal integrity, I was scared to death of the idea of doing that.
[14:40] Jason Kander: And so to me, when I had a job where I was at risk of being kidnapped or killed and this kind of thing. But I was never blown up and I never had a bullet whiz by my ear and I never had to take anybody’s life. It was very hard for me to process the idea that that was combat and it could cause post-traumatic stress. And just to finish this thought, there were two other guys over there who did what I did while I was there. And I had not stayed in touch with them. And one of them, after about a year after we got home, died in a one-vehicle accident, which is a unfortunately pretty common way that combat veterans take their lives. And so I called the other guy, who’s still alive. And we had a conversation where I was like, hey, man, look, this is what I’ve been experiencing — this was recently — and I’m doing a lot better now. So I wanted to check on you. And it turns out he had gone through all the same stuff that I had gone through over the last 10 years. And he recently called me because he had attempted suicide, and now he went through a big program, he’s doing much better.
[15:37] Jason Kander: But he told me, he’s like, man, after you left, like I couldn’t get anybody to stay in your job more than a few days. People would literally wet their pants doing it. And for me, that was really validating because it helped me understand, OK, yeah, I’m a combat veteran. But I wish that the three of us had had those conversations within six months of our deployment because one of the three of us, you know, maybe the one of us was no longer there, maybe he’d still be alive. And maybe all three of us would’ve got treatment a lot earlier. And so I guess my big point is like everybody’s going through this right now together and it’s difficult in a lot of different ways. But you just got to be really open to talking to the people in your lives about it, because you can make a big difference in their life just by talking to them about it.
[16:23] Andy Slavitt: Well, you’re helping a lot of people now. I actually thought one of the great contributions you made — I actually thought it was you were way out of this box that you were feeling — was actually by literally writing those words that the reason I haven’t done this is because I didn’t feel worthy of it, because there were people who had been in greater danger than me. And you just sort of said that. And I think that unlocked for people — and I hope it unlocks for people listening to this– the ability to take that first step. That acceptance step. And that not only is there nothing wrong with you, but just go back to your broken arm. Do you think there’s something wrong with you if you have a broken arm? No. You think you got an injury you’ve got to deal with, and you’d be foolish not to. And if someone you loved had an injury, they weren’t dealing with, you’d tell them, hey, what can I do to help? For we have thousands of nurses now and doctors who’ve been on the front line who didn’t get the indoctrination that you got, because they showed up for work one day and all of a sudden their training had led them to a place that they never thought they’d have to be. They’ve seen a lot of death. We’ve seen a lot of people dying alone without their families. We’ve seen a lot of people die without having proper memorials, rites, funerals. And we know that there is the same trauma involved, not just from those folks, but people who love those people, who are worried about those people every day. But those kinds of issues — the thing that just feels like it’s so important to say is they’re treatable. They’re mysterious when you’re feeling them. But as soon as you talk to a professional and find out that, guess what? This is a lot like treating a broken arm and you’ve got to approach it that way, you could feel better pretty quickly, even just knowing that you get on a path.
[18:00] Andy Slavitt: Yeah, that’s the most important thing. And I would totally echo what you’re saying about front line workers right now, particularly in health care, because while they don’t have that training beforehand that says this is no big deal. They do have something very similar, which is society driving home to them the idea that, you know, it’s always told them like, oh, it’s soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen. Those are the people who experience this. And it’s why so many people say things like, “well, I wasn’t in a war.” And I stop them and I’m like, it doesn’t matter. Because, frankly, healthcare workers right now basically are in a war. And on top of that, that’s one of the big things I’ve tried to get across to people is you can get better. I mean, I took eight months completely out of the public eye. It was because I just wanted to focus on getting better. And I knew that if I could, I wanted to set an example and demonstrate to people, but I knew I needed to actually do it first. And so I did.
[18:52] Jason Kander: I got to the other side, to what I called post-traumatic growth. And not only can you get better, it is so incredibly worth it. I’m like a different person. I’m the person largely that I was before I deployed. I don’t want to understate it, though, it is hard work. You got to put in the time. It’s like, you know, I had a knee surgery before I went into the army. And my knee still bothers me sometimes. But like I put in enough time right before I got in, I had to put off getting in to get the surgery and get better — this is back in ‘02 or ‘03 — but I put in enough time into physical therapy that like now I can run pretty far without pain, you know? And I still have a knee injury. But I know how to manage it. And that’s no different than post-traumatic stress. You’ve got to put in a lot of work. You’ve got to do the homework your therapist gives you. You’ve got to really focus on this stuff. But if you do, it’s like anything else, it’s just an injury that you manage. You know, you put some ice on it and you know how far you can run and you know, you know whether to do hills and all that stuff. So it’s very similar.
[21:35] Andy Slavitt: One of the things that you also did — this was sort of after a campaign and before the mayoral campaign — you started talking at a time when our country was really divided about how we talk to each other. Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about our ability to bridge some of the divides that we know we have?
[21:56] Jason Kander: I feel both optimistic and pessimistic in this way. I feel pessimistic if we continue on our current path. And I don’t just mean like who’s in charge. I mean, not making major cultural changes and changes to our system by which we elect people and that kind of thing. Then I would feel pessimistic because I feel like all of that drives us further apart. But if we can make some of those changes, which I think are possible, then I feel very optimistic. Because I think most Americans feel this — they could be far right, far left or whatever — I think it eats at people that they feel so separate from the rest of the people in this country, and that it’s very hard to now put your finger on what is the national identity of America. I mean, is it that we have a strong view one way or the other on Taylor Swift? Is it that we all watch the Super Bowl? It’s very difficult in a time where you’ve had the longest consecutive period in American history without some form of mandatory service to sort of really understand what that shared experience for Americans is. But I’m very optimistic in our capacity to deal with it.
[23:02] Andy Slavitt: Do you think that the global pandemic has the potential to be a unifying moment?
[23:08] Jason Kander: I think it has that potential. I think it’s the beginning of it, it really felt that way. You know, I read recently — I don’t if you read this book Tribe by Sebastian Junger. It’s tremendous. One of the best books I’ve ever read. And, you know, it reminded me, at the beginning of the pandemic, it reminded me of what he wrote about the blitz in London. And about how people, as horrific as it was to get bombed every night by the Germans, it brought people together and gave them a sense of belonging and unity in a way that they missed afterwards. You know, obviously, I can’t compare it to being bombed every night, but that sense of like we’re all actually up against the same thing, and we’re all actually doing something at the same time as a country, that was, I think, really unifying. And, you know, it matters who’s in charge, because now you’ve got a guy at the top who just has done every possible thing he can, for his own reasons, you know, to just shatter that sense of unity. And I don’t think it’s like reopening the economy equals shattering that sense of unity. Not at all. Like, it’s just it’s a leadership thing. Like you can have different views about how quickly or when to reopen the economy without shattering that sense of unity, and without creating divisiveness. And so I think it was a great opportunity, and I think it could still be. But I think we’ve largely missed a lot of it. It reminds me a lot of after 9/11, you know, President Bush didn’t say, “hey, let’s have a national service program. Let’s expand national service. Let’s get out and volunteer. Let’s, you know, raise taxes on the wealthiest so we can pay for this war that’s about to happen.” Or telling people to buy war bonds and not cash them in. No, instead, he told people to go shop. And I think it missed a real moment in American history to say, hey, let’s all do this together. Because that’s what Americans are looking for.
[25:03] Andy Slavitt: I agree with you, Jason. I think people want to be called on to be their best selves. When they see it and they see it in others around them, it inspires them to do that. You know, one of the things that I’ve said — and I’ve largely not criticized the president on this podcast in the hopes that, you know, Democrats, Republicans, no matter what you believe, you feel like you’ve got a right to get out of this moment a healthy family, country, society, etc. And not to alienate people. And I have been talking to the White House. I’ve tried to communicate in a way that I never expected him to listen to that the country actually has a greater tolerance for bad news delivered straight than he believes. And for hearing the truth even when it’s hard. We all want to be part of the team. We all want to be valued as part of that team. And when we are, it makes us feel good. And then we’ll pull our weight. We’ll pull it and then some. I want to finish with the kind of where I think this takes us, which is the place of your work — at least that I’m familiar with, I suspect you do a lot of things that I have no idea about — which is our republic and our democracy and our voting rights. We are going to go through what will likely be a different kind of election in November. We just got word today, for example, in Wisconsin, they did some analysis that when people were forced to vote in person, they created some hotspots and some illnesses and sadly will cost some people their health. And, you know, choosing between our health and our democracy, being able to vote by mail, and even before that, of course, we had voting rights issues in many, many states. Help us understand the state of play and what you think is going on here.
[26:48] Jason Kander: Yeah. You know, for a long time — so I used to be secretary of state, so I used to be a chief election official. And so in that work, particularly doing it in Missouri, where there was a majority of the legislature working very hard to make it harder to vote, I became really familiar with the Republican playbook on voter suppression. And when I first started talking about this, it was uncouth to talk about this as a partisan issue, but it just is. And it’s not even a partisan issue like education or healthcare or taxes, where, you know, there are honest disagreements about which way to go. It’s about power. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a partisan tactic. And look, if you look at the course of history, both parties have done it if you go back enough years. If you go back a century, you know, you can see it progress on both sides. But at this moment in history, the Republican Party has determined from a tactical standpoint that if more people vote, they lose. I mean, this isn’t even a thing that’s not proven. I mean, like the president recently said, you know, if we had vote-by-mail, Republicans would never win another election. He’s wrong about that. But that’s what they believe. And they figured something out. They figured out several years ago that they can go out and they can make it really hard to vote, and people could sue and they could get those laws overturned, and that would be a consequence in some way. But it would never be a political consequence. Because it was so hard to tie it back to the people who passed the law in the first place. Because by then, six months, nine months, a year has passed. So after the election in 2016, I started an organization which continues today, which now I’m on the board, but just kind of rooting from the sidelines, which is nice for somebody you started, to actually create political consequences for voter suppression. So photo I.D. laws, anything that just makes it harder to vote, we went out and we made sure voters understood why that was being done and who was doing it. And then we would target them and try to beat them. And we had a lot of success doing that. And it’s made a difference.
[28:50] Jason Kander: It’s called Let America Vote. And so it’s been very successful. It’s recently merged with another organization called End Citizens United. So together, the two organizations, they basically fight for democracy, both, you know, transparency in terms of campaign finance and also the ability for everybody to vote.
[29:09] Andy Slavitt: So what’s the website if people want to find that and support?
[29:13] Jason Kander: They can go to LetAmericaVote.org. I’m really proud of it. Like I said, now I’m on the board. And actually, my day job is as the president of Veterans Community Project in Kansas City. The part of the story that people didn’t get to hear at the time when I stepped back from everything to go get treatment was, you know, I told everybody, hey, I’m to go to the V.A. and get treatment. And that’s eventually what I did. But actually, the day before I made that announcement, I went to the V.A. in Kansas City and found that I was probably months away from getting to see a therapist because there was so much paperwork between me and getting that done. And six weeks prior to that, you know, I was on path to become the next mayor of Kansas City. We were pretty confident that was going to happen. And so sort of mayor-in-waiting, so to speak a little bit. And so I was touring nonprofits in Kansas City and I toured this place, Veterans Community Project, and I was blown away by it.
[30:14] Jason Kander: Well, back to where we started the story six weeks later, I’m looking at this going, I don’t know how to get into this system. I need to get into it now. So I texted my buddy, who was the co-founder and CEO of Veterans Community Project, and I was like, I’m not sure what to do. And he was like, come on in. So I ended up, six weeks after touring the place as a VIP, walking through the front doors, one of thousands of veterans in Kansas City to go there to get assistance with, you know, they do everything. In my case, it was paperwork. But what they’re best known for is they’ve a village of tiny houses for veteran homelessness. Obviously, that’s not the part of the program I was there to take advantage of, but it’s one of the more inspiring parts. And so they got me right into therapy at the V.A. I got right into weekly therapy. And several months later, I started volunteering there, and related a little bit to Let America Vote, they said, look, this has been so huge in Kansas City that all these other communities around the country are asking us to expand and to move into their community as well. They’re like, we’ve never built a national organization. You have. Do you want to do it again? And so I jumped at it. So that’s what I do now. I’m the president of the organization. My focus is national expansion. And so we are putting veterans’ villages and outreach centers to serve all veterans all over the country.
[31:24] Andy Slavitt: Wow. I think you have this make the world a better place thing that I think is really in a lot of us. But we don’t always use it. And we have a lot of stuff that’s going on in our own lives. And out of all of this, I think one of the things that I really hope for is that it helps all of us slim down our priorities to the things that really matter in our lives, for our country, in service of the people we can help. And I know that for me going through this these last few months, if it wasn’t about how to help people save people’s lives, or their sanity, or making this country work better in this process, I just didn’t do it. If it wasn’t that or wasn’t my family, it just didn’t get done. And there’s something about going through these crises that allow all of us to take stock. And out of that, I mean, teachable moment, going through it together. Lots of stuff that divides us. But there is hopefully a reminder that we do have a common experience, that there are some things that matter to all of us, and that the differences that we often don’t tolerate in one another are the kinds of things that are always going to exist. So you might as well try to accept them and understand them a little bit more. And I think you got a long way to go, Jason, in your life. But the things you’ve done already so far at your age has just been great to watch. I think it’s been great service to our country in so many ways.
[32:52] Jason Kander: Thanks, Andy. I really appreciate it. And I appreciate everything you do as well. Thanks for having me on.
[32:56] Andy Slavitt: You got it. And let’s stay in touch.
[33:04] Jason Kander: That was a conversation with Jason Kander. What did you think, Zach?
[33:08] Zach Slavitt: That was great. I liked what he had to say especially about voter suppression.
[33:13] Andy Slavitt: Yeah, he had really good wisdom there. Well, thanks for sticking with it. We have a show coming in two days. We’re dropping Wednesday morning an episode that is gonna be largely led by Lana, who’s my wife and Zach’s mom, which I think is going to be exciting in its own right. And she’s interviewing Shannon Watts from Moms Demand Action. And so it will be a cool show. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in.
[33:42] Andy Slavitt: In the Bubble is a production of Lemonada Media. Niccole Galteland is our producer and Ivan Kuraev is our editor. Music is by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill. Zach Slavtii is our co-producer and my co-host. You can find out more about our show on social media @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me on social media at @ASlavitt on Twitter, @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you liked what you heard today, tell your family and friends, but tell them at a distance. For now, stay safe. Share some joy. We’ll get through this together. And #StayHome.