In a fundraising video for his U.S. Senate campaign released Monday, former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens held a pump-action shotgun and introduced himself as a Navy SEAL. The video showed him joining a group of men in tactical gear who broke into an empty house to hunt down members of his own political party.
But Greitens is no longer a Navy SEAL. He has also not been affiliated with the Navy Reserve or the Department of the Navy for more than a year, a Navy Reserve spokesman said.
Greitens resigned from the Marine Reserve on May 1, 2021, just two months after launching his campaign for the US Senate, according to Navy officials. He was an active member of the Marine Reserve for about two years.
Throughout his political career, Greitens has leaned on his credentials as a former SEAL to propel himself to fame. He created an image of the principled veteran – and despite some warnings from his fellow SEALs – wrote three books and toured the speaker circuit giving lectures on ethics and leadership.
But that curated image collapsed during his brief tenure at the governor’s mansion amid a slew of scandals. Allegations of sexual abuse and campaign finance violations forced him to resign on June 1, 2018. He served less than half his term.
Trying to rebuild himself after his discharge, Greitens asked to be returned to active duty with the Marine Reserve in January 2019. He had been moved to inactive status while serving as governor, which allowed him to retain his commission.
At first he encountered resistance. Neither the SEALs nor the Navy wanted him back.
It was only after Greitens received support from Vice President Mike Pence that he was allowed to return to military service in a reserve role by Navy officials. But he was denied SEAL’s designation when he returned as a general unrestricted line officer, a classification used for reservists who typically perform office duties and do not have a warfare classification.
Dylan Johnson, a spokesman for Greitens, said it was “an honor of a lifetime” for Greitens to join the Navy and serve as a SEAL. He listed Greitens’ four deployments and his commendations, including a purple heart, a bronze star, and recognition as the “single best line officer in the entire Navy Reserve.”
“After 20 years since his appointment as an officer in the Navy, Governor Greitens’ had already announced his candidacy for the United States Senate to serve the people of Missouri,” Johnson said.
It is unclear what role Greitens played during his military service between 2019 and 2021. As of May 2019, the Navy was still struggling with the role to give him, according to a request previous records†
“He has alluded to VPOTUS throughout the process, but has been very reserved in all of his discussions with us,” wrote Rear Admiral Executive Assistant Brendan McLane on May 24, 2019. get a few weeks ago, but all he wanted to say is that he wanted to join NOSC St. Louis and then be available to be “assigned to Washington DC for work with the National Security Council.”
The Navy’s decision to return him to active status sparked an investigation into how the Navy handles cases of misconduct†