Eric Greitens was born and raised in Missouri, where he was educated in 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 a Truman Scholar, he attended the University of Oxford where he earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. His doctoral thesis, Children First, investigated how international humanitarian organizations can best serve war-affected children. He has worked as a humanitarian volunteer, documentary photographer, and researcher in Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, India, Bosnia, and Bolivia.
Eric also served as a United States Navy SEAL officer and deployed four times during the Global War on Terrorism to Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Iraq. He 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. In 2005, he was appointed by the President to serve as a White House Fellow, and in 2011 the Association of the United States Navy named him the Navy Reserve Junior Line Officer of the Year. His military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.