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Exclusive: Buttigieg says he suffered depression on return from Afghanistan

Pete Buttigieg told "Axios on HBO" that although he wasn't diagnosed with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan after a 7-month deployment in 2014, "there's a level of depression ... that I went through when I came back."

Why it matters: This is a new window into Buttigieg's unusual experience of serving as a 32-year-old, then returning to resume his job as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

  • "Of course, it's the effect of having been exposed to danger," Buttigieg said during an interview at his campaign HQ in South Bend, Ind.
  • "I think, also, some moral pressure," he continued. "Any time, in any way, you are even remotely involved in killing, it takes something out of you, and it takes a lot of work to process that."

Buttigieg, who was an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve, noted that he "was not a special forces operator — I wasn't kicking down doors."

  • But he said the experience still "takes something out of you, and it takes a lot of work to process that."

Buttigieg told me the feeling lasted about a year, and that he never felt he needed medical treatment.

  • "It's the displacement," he added. "It's a lotta things — I mean, the fact that you are trying to come back into a civilian world whose rules are just different than what you were with when you were deployed."