According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, quoting an emailed statement from former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, Greitens is considering a run for statewide political office in Missouri. Speculation among Missouri political types is that Greitens is considering a run for Missouri governor, though the former SEAL’s emailed statement did not specify to which office Greitens aspired, only that he was considering entering the statewide Republican primaries in 2016.
Greitens is a former SEAL officer whose website states that he served four tours of duty overseas in the Global War on Terrorism. Greitens deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia, according to the website, and were awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. While a SEAL officer, Greitens served as the commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment, commander of a Joint Special Operations Task Unit, and commander of an al-Qaeda targeting cell.
Greitens has declined to comment publicly on his possible run beyond his emailed statement in response to the Post-Dispatch’s inquiry, and it remains unclear how the recent suicide of state auditor and gubernatorial candidate Tom Schweich (R) will affect Greitens’ decision to run for governor. It appears likely that he would face a field of at least two to three other Republican contenders in pursuit of the nomination as his party’s candidate.
In addition to his wartime military service, Greitens is also a former Rhodes and Truman Scholar. He attended Duke University as an undergraduate and earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in the U.K. He is also a bestselling author and photographer, with three books under his belt. His best-known work is titled “The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.”
In addition to serving in 2005 as a White House fellow, Greitens founded a non-governmental organization called The Mission Continues, which calls on veterans to serve in communities across America. He currently teaches as a senior fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs and lives in St. Louis.
Greitens would not be the first Navy SEAL to seek or win a statewide office. Former UDT team member Jim Janos (better known by his wrestling name, Jesse Ventura) (I) served as governor of Minnesota from 1999-2003, while former SEALs J. Robert “Bob” Kerrey (D) of Nebraska and Ryan Zinke (R) of Montana served in the U.S. Congress as a senator and congressman, respectively. Zinke still serves in that capacity in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Kerrey was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War and is one of only three living SEAL recipients to receive that highest of military honors. Thomas “Tommy” Norris and Michael Thornton were also awarded Medals of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War, while more recently, SEALs Michael Monsoor and Michael Murphy were posthumously awarded Medals of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.
While some “big military,” in addition to Special Operations, veterans are making the jump to political service in the decade and a half since the 9/11 attacks, there continues to be an overall downward trend in the veteran makeup of the nation’s political institutions in the past 25 years.
As of the current (114th) U.S. Congress, only 81 House of Representatives members out of 436 (18 percent) are military veterans, while in the U.S. Senate, there are 16 veterans out of 100 members (16 percent). In contrast, according to a recent PBS News Hour report, in 1971, veterans made up 72 percent of the House membership, and 78 percent of the Senate.
SOFREP welcomes the addition of more U.S. military veterans in the U.S. government.