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Eric Greitens
Eric Greitens.jpg
Personal details
Born Eric Robert Greitens[1]
April 10, 1974(1974-04-10) (age 46)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
Spouse(s) Sheena Elise Chestnut (m. 2011)
Profession Navy SEAL
Public Speaker
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 2001 - Present
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Commands Joint Special Operations Task Unit
Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment
Al Qaeda Targeting Cell
Awards Bronze Star ribbon Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR Purple Heart
Joint Service Commendation ribbon Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation ribbon

Navy Commendation Medal
Us jointservachiev rib Joint Service Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon Combat Action Ribbon
Outstanding Volunteer Service ribbonMilitary Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

Eric Robert Greitens (born April 10, 1974) is a nonprofit leader, author, speaker and a United States Navy SEAL, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a former Rhodes Scholar and currently serves as the CEO of The Mission Continues. TIME Magazine named Greitens to its 100 Most Influential People in the World in April 2013.


Greitens was born and raised in Missouri, the son of Becky and Robert Greitens.[1] He was raised Jewish.[2] Greitens attended Parkway North High School.[3] He was named a member of the 1995 USA Today All-USA Academic Team. Greitens was an Angier B. Duke Scholar[4] at Duke University where he studied ethics, philosophy, and public policy. After graduating in 1996, he was selected as a Rhodes[5][6] and Truman Scholar.[7] Greitens attended Lady Margaret Hall, a constituent college of the University of Oxford where he earned a master’s degree in development studies in 1998, and a Ph.D.[8] in politics in 2000.

Greitens is a Senior Fellow at the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri.[9] In the past, Greitens has taught classes at both the University of Missouri in Columbia and at Washington University in St. Louis.

Humanitarian aidEdit

As an undergraduate researcher, Greitens spent time in Croatia and Rwanda where he aided war refugees. His thesis at Oxford, entitled Children First, investigated the ways in which international humanitarian organizations can best serve war-affected children. Greitens has worked as a humanitarian volunteer, documentary photographer, and researcher in Zaire, the Gaza Strip, Albania, Cambodia, Mexico, Bolivia, and India. His photographs were featured in the publication, Community Strategies for Healing.[10]

Naval careerEdit

Greitens attended Naval Officer Candidate School in January 2001,[11][12] after graduating from Oxford. He began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S)[13][14] and graduated with Class 237 in Coronado, California in February 2002.[15] Greitens is currently a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve, and he has deployed four times during the Global War on Terrorism: 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,[16] and as Commander of an al Qaeda Targeting Cell.[17] His personal military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.

White House FellowshipEdit

In 2005-2006, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a White House Fellow.[18] As a White House Fellow, Greitens worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)[19] and developed a new program to assist with the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. The program, called the Universities Rebuilding America Partnership (URAP),[20] was a $5.6 million effort to engage architecture and engineering students in the continued effort to rebuild New Orleans.

The Mission ContinuesEdit

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."[21]

The organization's fellowship program places post-9/11 wounded and disabled veterans in community-based nonprofit organizations for 14–28 weeks. The organization also matches each fellow with a mentor who assists the veteran in developing his or her professional and educational goals. Additionally, the Mission Continues facilitates volunteer-led service projects that encourage civilians and veterans to serve side by side through community service. Greitens currently serves as Chairman and CEO of The Mission Continues.[22][23][24]

Public speakerEdit

Eric Greitens is a public speaker for law enforcement, universities, civic associations and corporations. His speech topics usually focus on leadership, service, and social responsibility. He is represented by The Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau.[25]


Strength and Compassion is a collection of photographs and essays by Eric Greitens. Published in 2008,[26] it is Greitens' first book and contains a foreword by Rwandan humanitarian, Paul Rusesabagina and an introduction by Bobby Muller, co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.[27]

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.[28][29] 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.”[30] The book became a New York Times bestseller [31][32] and debuted on The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance Best Sellers list at #1 for the week of April 17, 2011.[33]

The Warrior's Heart is a young adult adaptation of Greitens' bestselling The Heart and the Fist, released October 9, 2012.

Media appearancesEdit

Greitens has been a guest on various media outlets including NBC Nightly News,[34] the Today Show,[35] the Colbert Report,[36] and The Daily Show where he spoke on topics including the Mission Continues, the rigorous training he received at Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S), and the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Awards and honorsEdit

On April 18, 2013, Time Magazine named Greitens to its 2013 100 Most Influential People in the World. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, provided the narrative for Greitens' selection as one of TIME's 2013 Pioneers.[37]

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.[38]

In June 2010, Major League Baseball and People Magazine announced Eric Greitens as a winner in People Magazine's All-Stars Among Us competition. Eric was selected to represent the city of St. Louis and the Cardinals at the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim, California.[39][40]

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.[41] Greitens also served as Grand Marshall and keynote speaker of the 2008 Veterans Day Parade in St. Louis, Missouri on November 8, 2008. He spoke alongside Francis Slay, Mayor of the City of St. Louis, and Congressman Russ Carnahan of Missouri's 3rd District. The City of St. Louis honored Greitens and the Mission Continues Fellows at a special ceremony at the City Hall Rotunda.

As a student, Greitens won two Oxford Boxing Blues and the Gold Medal at the BUSA National Championships. He is also a sub-3 hour Marathon Runner, and won the Shamrock Marathon at Camp Fallujah, Iraq in 2007. Greitens was honored with the HOOAH Award, commissioned by the Major George A. Smith Memorial Fund in 2009.[42] Greitens was named the 2010 Reader of the Year by Outside magazine.[43]

Personal lifeEdit

Greitens married Sheena Elise Chestnut on August 7, 2011.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sheena Chestnut, Eric Greitens, The New York Times, August 5, 2011
  3. Hall of Fame – Our Charter Class, 2004
  4. AB Duke Profiles
  5. 32 Are Named Rhodes Scholars AP National Desk , Dec 11, 1995
  6. Two receive Rhodes
  7. Meet Our Scholars, 1995 Truman Scholars
  8. Refugee Studies Centre, Annual Report, p. 16
  10. PDF Community Strategies for Healing
  11. [|Greitens, Eric] (2011). The Heart and the Fist. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-547-42485-9. 
  13. [|Greitens, Eric] (2011). The Heart and the Fist. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. pp. 143–145. ISBN 978-0-547-42485-9. 
  15. [|Greitens, Eric] (2011). The Heart and the Fist. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-547-42485-9. 
  16. [|Greitens, Eric] (2011). The Heart and the Fist. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-547-42485-9. 
  17. [|Greitens, Eric] (2011). The Heart and the Fist. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-547-42485-9. 
  18. "White House Fellows: Class of 2005-2006" Online Article. The White House. 16 Jul 2008 <>.
  19. Hinman, Kristen. "Captain America." Riverfront Times 09 APR 2008 10. 15 APR 2008 <>
  20. "Volume 3 Number 5: Universities Rebuilding America." PD&R Periodicals: Research Works. 01 MAY 2006. PD&R Periodicals. 27 Apr 2008 <>.
  22. New Profit Portfolio: Mission Continues Leadership
  23. Draper Richards Fellow: Eric Greitens
  24. Mission Continues Chief Executive Officer: Eric Greitens
  26. " Strength and Compassion: Photographs and Essays by Eric Greitens". Sep 23, 2008. <
  28. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Heart & the Fist
  29. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Spring 2011 Frontlist Catalogue, p. 15-16
  31. Schuessler, Jennifer (May 13, 2011). "Inside the List". The New York Times. 
  32. Schuessler, Jennifer. "Print & E-Books". The New York Times. 
  33. "St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance". <
  37. "Eric Greitens | TIME 100: The 100 Most Influential People in the World." TIME. 18 April 2013. <>
  38. "A Meaningful Adventure." Tufts NOW. 20 May 2012. <>
  39. "MLB, PEOPLE Magazine & Cardinals announce three finalists for "People All-Stars Among Us" national campaign." St. Louis Cardinals. 1 June 2010. <>
  40. "People All-Stars Among Us." MLB. 20 June 2010. <>
  41. "President Bush Honoring Local Veteran with Award" KSDK News Channel 5. 3 Oct 2007.<>.

Further Reading/ListeningEdit

External linksEdit

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