San Diego County supervisor, seeking help for PTSD, alcohol abuse, ends state Senate run

Nathan Fletcher sits on a couch, clasping his hands together and pressing them against his mouth.
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Sunday night that he would check into an extended inpatient treatment center.
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced Sunday night he would be seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse and 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, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a former Assembly member.

“I have no doubt I will not only make a full recovery, but will come back stronger, more connected and present,” Fletcher wrote. “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, who is 46, was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in 2018. He 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 had 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.

Fletcher became the target of sharp criticism and threats as one of the most visible local officials supporting lockdowns, vaccinations and mask mandates during the pandemic.


The home he and his wife share in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego was damaged in a fire early on the morning of Jan. 12, 2022, that was deemed “suspicious” by investigators.

The couple and their children got out safely after being awakened by smoke alarms around 4 a.m. The front door of the home was in flames, and the family escaped through another door. The fire caused an estimated $35,000 in damage to the house and a car parked nearby. An arson investigation into the blaze is ongoing, and no arrests have been made, San Diego Police Sgt. Rick Pechin said Monday.

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

Fletcher served in the state Assembly from 2008 to 2012 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.

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