THE HEART AND THE FIST shares one man’s story of extraordinary leadership and service as both a humanitarian and a warrior. In a life lived at the raw edges of the human experience, Greitens has seen what can be accomplished when compassion and courage come together in meaningful service.
As a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL, Greitens worked alongside volunteers who taught art to street children in Bolivia and led US Marines who hunted terrorists in Iraq. He’s learned from nuns who fed the destitute in one of Mother Teresa’s homes for the dying in India, from aid workers who healed orphaned children in Rwanda, and from Navy SEALs who fought in Afghanistan. He excelled at the hardest military training in the world, and today he works with severely wounded and disabled veterans who are rebuilding their lives as community leaders at home.
Greitens offers each of us a new way of thinking about living a meaningful life. We learn that to win any war, even those we wage against ourselves; to create and obtain lasting peace; to save a life; and even, simply to live with purpose requires us—every one of us—to be both good and strong.
Eric Greitens was born and raised in Missouri, where he was educated in the public schools. He was an Angier B. Duke Scholar at Duke University where he studied ethics, philosophy, and public policy. Selected as a Rhodes and Truman Scholar, he attended the University of Oxford from 1996 through 2000. There he earned a master’s degree in 1998 and a Ph.D. in 2000. His doctoral thesis, Children First, investigated how international humanitarian organizations can best serve war-affected children. He continues to study and teach public service as a Senior Fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and in the MBA Program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University.
Eric’s award-winning book of photographs and essays, Strength and Compassion, grew from his humanitarian work. He has worked as a humanitarian volunteer, documentary photographer, and researcher in Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, India, the Gaza Strip, Croatia, and Bolivia. Strength and Compassion is a collection of striking photographs from each of these countries, combined with bold essays on Strength, Dignity, Courage, Faith, Hope, and Compassion. Among other accolades, Strength and Compassion has been recognized as ForeWord Magazine’s Photography Book of the Year, and as the Grand Prize Winner of the 2009 New York Book Festival.
Eric is also a United States Navy SEAL officer, and he has deployed four times during the Global War on Terrorism: to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. He has served as the Commander of a Joint Special Operations Task Unit, Commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment, and as Commander of an al Qaeda Targeting Cell. Lieutenant Commander Greitens continues to serve in the reserves at U.S. Special Operations Command. His personal military awards include the Navy Achievement Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.
An accomplished athlete, Eric is a sub-3 hour Marathon runner and the winner of the Shamrock Marathon at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. As a boxer, he won two Oxford Boxing Blues and the Gold Medal at the BUSA National Boxing Championships.
After returning from Iraq, Eric donated his combat pay to found The Mission Continues. A non-profit organization, The Mission Continues empowers wounded and disabled veterans to begin new lives as citizen leaders here at home. From May 2007 to May 2009, Eric contributed over 2,750 volunteer hours as a volunteer Chairman and CEO, and the President of the United States personally presented Eric with the President’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition of his inspiring national leadership working with wounded and disabled veterans.
As CEO of The Mission Continues, the Draper Richards Foundation selected Eric as a Fellow, recognizing him as one of the most innovative leaders in America. The following year the Manhattan Institute for Social Entrepreneurship honored Eric as one of the five leading social entrepreneurs in America. Major League Baseball and PEOPLE Magazine recently named him an “All-Star Among Us” for his service to his country, Outside Magazine announced Eric as their “Reader of the Year,” and the National Conference on Citizenship named Eric its citizen soldier of the year.