Eric Greitens

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Eric Greitens
Eric Greitens.jpg
Personal details
Born Eric Robert Greitens
(1974-04-10) April 10, 1974 (age 42)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sheena Chestnut (m. 2011)
Children 2
Alma mater Duke University
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
Religion Judaism[1]
Website Official website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 2001–present
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander
Commands Joint Special Operations Task Unit
Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment
Al Qaeda Targeting Cell
Awards Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation ribbon.svg Navy Commendation Medal
Us jointservachiev rib.svg Joint Service Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon.svg Combat Action Ribbon
Outstanding Volunteer Service ribbon.svg Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

Eric Robert Greitens (born April 10, 1974) is an American politician and author. He is the Republican candidate for Governor of Missouri.[2] Greitens is the Former President and founder of The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization for veterans.[3] In 2013, Time Magazine listed him on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World,[4] and in 2014 Fortune Magazine listed him as one of the world's 50 greatest leaders.[5] In August 2016, Grietens won a four-way Republican primary, pitting him against Democratic Party's Chris Koster in the general election.[6]

As an author, highly paid speaker and politician, Greitens has been criticized as among former Navy SEALs engaged in "rampant commercial and personal exploitation of a brotherhood that once prized discretion." Greitens has answered that the activities in question reflect "glory" on SEALs and are therefore "good for the country."[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Greitens was born on April 10, 1974 in St. Louis, Missouri.[8]

Greitens attended Parkway North High School[9] and was named a member of the 1995 USA Today All-USA Academic Team. Greitens was an Angier B. Duke Scholar[10] at Duke University where he studied ethics, philosophy, and public policy. After graduating in 1996, he was selected as a Rhodes[11][12] and Truman Scholar.[13] Greitens attended Lady Margaret Hall, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, where he earned a Ph.D in development studies in 2000.[14] Some of his photographs appear in the publication Children in War: Community Strategies for Healing.[15]

Greitens is a former Senior Fellow at the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri.[16] In the past, Greitens has taught classes at both the University of Missouri in Columbia and at Washington University in St. Louis.

Personal life[edit]

Greitens married Sheena Elise Chestnut on August 7, 2011 in Spokane, Washington.[8] They live in St. Louis, Missouri, with their two sons.[17][18]


Armed Services[edit]

Greitens attended Naval Officer Candidate School in January 2001,[19][20] after graduating from Oxford. He began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S)[21][22] and graduated with Class 237 in Coronado, California, in February 2002.[23] Greitens is currently a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy Reserve, and he was deployed four times to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. He served as the commander of a joint special operations task unit, commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft detachment,[24] and as commander of an al Qaeda targeting cell.[25] His personal military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.

White House Fellowship[edit]

In 2005, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a White House Fellow.[26] As a White House Fellow, Greitens worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)[27] and developed a new program to assist with the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. The program, called the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership (URAP),[28] was a $5.6 million effort to engage architecture and engineering students in the continued effort to rebuild New Orleans. During his time as a White House Fellow, he also co-founded the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Program.[29]

The Mission Continues[edit]

After returning from Iraq, Greitens used his combat pay and the disability pay of two friends to start The Mission Continues. The mission of the organization is to "challenge veterans to serve and lead in communities across America."[30]

The Mission Continues encourages veterans to heal themselves through public service by engaging in volunteer organizations across the country.[31][32] In 2014 the organization won the CLASSY Award, recognizing its effectiveness in active-duty and veteran services.[33] Greitens stepped down as CEO in July 2014. He resigned the board of directors in 2015. [34][35][36][37][38] In 2011, the organization posted $200,000 in "reportable compensation" to Greitens. [39]


Strength and Compassion is a collection of photographs and essays by Greitens. Published in 2008,[40] it is Greitens' first book, with a foreword by Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina and an introduction by Bobby Muller, co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.[41]

Greitens' second book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, was published on April 11, 2011, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.[42][43] The Heart and the Fist is Greitens' memoir of service, featuring stories of his humanitarian work, his training as a naval officer and SEAL and the military experiences that led him to adopt the paradoxical philosophy that you have to be strong to do good, but you also have to do good to be strong. Kirkus Review said of The Heart and the Fist: "Clear-eyed account of a youth devoted to service as a warrior and a humanitarian."[44] The book became a New York Times bestseller[45][46] and debuted on The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance Best Sellers list at No. 1 for the week of April 17, 2011.[47] The following year, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also released a young adult edition of The Heart and the Fist titled The Warrior's Heart.[48]

In March 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released Greitens' book Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life. It draws on letters Greitens wrote to a fellow SEAL struggling with PTSD.[49][50]

As an author and former SEAL, Greitens is represented by the speakers’ bureau Leading Authorities. Greitens was paid about $75,000 for a speech in Asia, according to the bureau’s website. [51]


In 2010, he was courted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as a Democrat against Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Republican from mid-Missouri.[52][53] He has previously discussed climate change from a military and humanitarian perspective.[54] He attributes the creation of the United Nations, NATO, and Marshall Plan as one of the most successful American foreign policies of the last 100 years.[55]

On September 26, 2015, Greitens officially announced his candidacy for Governor of the State of Missouri[56] as a Republican.[57]

His platform is pro-life, and supports the Second Amendment. It is focused on intense ethics reform in response to issues of corruption in Missouri politics.[58] He has stated when asked why he wanted to be governor: "I want to be governor of Missouri because I love Missouri...and I know that with conservative leadership we can turn Missouri around.[59] His campaign recently volunteered to help in the flood cleanup in Missouri.[60]

Months before declaring his candidacy, Greitens penned an op-ed on called "Former Navy SEAL: Why I am no longer a Democrat." He has still received criticism from some Republicans for his past as a Democrat.[61] In the piece, he stated, "I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that. I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress.There was one rather large problem. As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas."[61] On the McGraw Show, a radio news talk show, when asked why he was running as a Republican when some thought he would run as a Democrat, he replied, "I'm not a Republican by birth but by conviction. Because of the things that I've done, and the things that I believe."[59] When asked why he wanted to be governor, he stated, "I want to be governor of Missouri because I love Missouri...and I know that with conservative leadership we can turn Missouri around.[59] He goes on to explain seeing the VA's perceived mistreatment of veterans, his belief in the U.S. Constitution, free enterprise system, over taxation hurts the middle class, that he pro-life, pro second amendment, and that he feels he needs to "take on career politicians."[59]

A Super PAC run by former staffers of fellow gubernatorial candidate John Brunner called Patriots for America has also criticized Eric Greitens for not being sufficiently conservative.[62] This led to a controversy over a recorded and leaked phone call between Greitens and Brunner where Greitens called Brunner "a 'weasel,' 'coward,' 'corrupt' and a liar."[63] Greitens blamed him for attack ads produced by former Brunner staffers.[64][65][66] Despite controversies surrounding his political past, he has raised more money than any other Republican candidate.[67][68] He has received one million dollars in donations from the Michael L Goguen Trust in Menlo Park, California which is his biggest donor.[69]

In February 2016, an anonymous video was released on YouTube accusing Eric Greitens of greatly exaggerating his military record. In July, Paul Holzer, a political operator and former Chief of Staff[70] to John Brunner took credit for creating the video.[71] Greitens released a counter video to refute the claims of the accusational video. At the time, he speculated that a political opponent was behind it saying "This clearly fits the pattern of what John Brunner did with [Patriots for America].[72]" Paul Holzer works for Patriots for America through his firm Draper Sterling.[73][74]

Honors & Awards[edit]

In 2014, Fortune Magazine featured Greitens as one of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders.[75] On April 18, 2013, Time magazine named Greitens to its 2013 one hundred Most Influential People in the World.[4]

On May 20, 2012, Greitens was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Tufts University when he gave the commencement speech at the school's 156th commencement.[76] That same year, Greitens received the Bronfman Prize, which recognizes dynamic leaders whose innovation and impact serve as inspiration for the next generations.[77]

In June 2010, Major League Baseball and People Magazine announced Greitens as a winner in People Magazine's All-Stars Among Us competition. He was selected to represent the city of St. Louis and the Cardinals at the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim, California.[78][79]

On October 3, 2008, President George W. Bush personally awarded Greitens the President's Volunteer Service Award outside Air Force One at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, for his work at The Mission Continues.[80]

Greitens is an accomplished marathon runner who has also won gold medals in taekwondo and boxing.[81] Greitens was honored with the HOOAH Award, commissioned by the Major George A. Smith Memorial Fund in 2009.[82] Greitens was named the 2010 Reader of the Year by Outside magazine.[83]

Greitens has appeared on NBC Nightly News,[84] the Today Show,[85] the Colbert Report,[86] and The Daily Show.[87]



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External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dave Spence
Republican nominee for Governor of Missouri
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