Supervisor Nathan Fletcher seeking help for post-traumatic stress, alcohol abuse; ends state Senate run

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher will check into an inpatient treatment center for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Sunday night that he will check into an extended inpatient treatment center for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse.
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

The San Diego County supervisor said he has suffered from post-traumatic stress resulting from military combat and childhood trauma


San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Sunday night he will be seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse and will be ending his state Senate campaign.

In a statement he posted on Twitter, Fletcher said he planned to check into an extended inpatient treatment center this week on the recommendation of his therapist and the insistence of his wife, former Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.

“I have no doubt I will not only make a full recovery, but will come back stronger, more connected and present. However, it is clear I need to focus on my health and my family and do not have the energy to simultaneously pursue a campaign for the State Senate,” Fletcher wrote.

Fletcher, who was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in 2018, attributed his “devastating post traumatic stress” to combat he faced during his stint in the Marine Corps and “intense childhood trauma” that was worsened by alcohol abuse.

Before he was elected in 2008 to the Assembly, Fletcher served combat tours in Iraq, the Horn of Africa and the Near East, according to his office biography.

In his statement, Fletcher said he has shared some of his challenges publicly but said “they run much deeper than I have acknowledged.”

“Outwardly, I have projected calm and composure. Internally, I have been waging a struggle that only those closest to me have seen; the detrimental impact on my relationships, mood, and inability to sleep,” Fletcher wrote. “I have to seek help.”

While Fletcher is in treatment, he said his supervisor’s office will continue to work with constituents.

Fletcher largely was the face of the county’s response as the COVID-19 pandemic began, taking center stage at most of the county’s daily public briefings. Three years after joining the board in 2018, Fletcher became the first Democrat to serve as board chairman in more than three decades — and ended up serving as chair in back-to-back years.

As a county supervisor, Fletcher also championed mental health reforms. His county term runs through 2026.

Fletcher was in the state Assembly from 2008 to 2012, serving as a Republican. He left the Republican party to become an independent when he unsuccessfully ran for San Diego mayor in 2012, and eventually became a Democrat.

While serving on the state Assembly, Fletcher authored Chelsea’s law, which tightened penalties against violent sex offenders and was named in honor of Chelsea King, a 17-year-old Poway girl murdered in 2010.

It was just seven weeks ago that Fletcher launched his campaign for the state Senate District 39 seat held by Toni Atkins, the Senate president pro tempore, who is termed out in two years.

“From leading one of the most effective COVID responses in the nation to leading Marines in combat, I’ve never shied away from taking on the toughest fights,” Fletcher said when announcing his campaign. “I’m running for state Senate to deliver higher wages, a lower cost of living, and a fundamentally fair shot at a better life that every San Diego County family deserves.”

He had already amassed nearly $1 million in his campaign fund and picked up the backing of a number of groups and individuals.

Gonzalez also took to Twitter on Sunday night, posting a response to Fletcher’s announcement: “I love my husband and appreciate his willingness to put our family first.”


6:12 a.m. March 27, 2023: This story was updated.

6:12 a.m. March 27, 2023: This story was updated with additional details.