Eric Greitens, Class of 1992 and 1999
Founder and CEO, The Mission Continues
“I first went to the Academy of Achievement in 1992, the year I graduated from high school. The weekend was an inspired celebration of excellence, a testament to all of the different ways that people can flourish.”
Eric Greitens attended the Academy of Achievement again in 1999, during his time as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. As part of his doctoral research, he traveled to Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, Israel, India, Bosnia, and Bolivia as a humanitarian volunteer and documentary photographer. Upon earning his Ph.D. in 2000, Eric became a United States Navy SEAL officer and served for ten years. He deployed four times during the Global War on Terrorism — to Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, and Iraq. His military awards include the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star. In 2005, he was appointed by the President to serve as a White House Fellow.
After returning from Iraq in 2007, Eric donated his combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that challenges veterans to serve and lead in communities across America. His socially innovative work at The Mission Continues has received awards from The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the Manhattan Institute for Social Entrepreneurship, New Profit, and The Social Venture Network.
A photographer and writer, Eric is the author of two books. Strength and Compassion is a collection of photographs and essays that was recognized as the Grand Prize Winner of the 2009 New York Book Festival. His second book, The Heart & the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, relates Eric’s story of leadership and service as a humanitarian and a warrior, and was a 2011 New York Times Bestseller. His work has been covered by national media outlets including The Colbert Report, NPR, CNN, NBC Nightly News, Fox, CBS, MSNBC, the TODAY Show, USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.