The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL

greitensheartfistBy Lauren Hashiguchi (OR ’10)

Eric
Greitens, 1995 Truman Scholar from Missouri and Navy SEAL, has served on the front lines: in
Mother Teresa’s homes for the destitute, with refugees in Bosnia and genocide
survivors in Rwanda, in Navy SEAL training and counterterrorism combat, and
with wounded and disabled warriors at home. In his book The Heart and the Fist,
which comes out on April 11th, Greitens shares the story of his
extraordinary journey, offering his reflections on what it means to find
fulfillment on the front lines of service as a both a humanitarian and warrior.

This
candid story of service speaks especially to the community of Truman Scholars.
Greitens, reflecting on the central motivation for his service, remarks, “I
think what’s at the heart of all of it is something that is probably at the
heart of it for many Truman scholars, which is a passionate sense to use my
time and whatever gifts I have been given to be of service to others.” With the
support of the Truman Foundation, he completed his doctoral thesis, Children
First
, at Oxford. The thesis investigated how international humanitarian
organizations can best serve war-affected children. He says, “One of the
obligations that we have as scholars is to figure out how we use this
tremendous gift and investment in our education to do the best possible service
work that we can in our communities, for our country, and in the wider world.”

greitensiraq

Central
to Greitens’s motivation for writing The
Heart and the Fist
is realizing a flourishing and complete life through
service. To Greitens, the bond between strength and compassion unify his
service as both a humanitarian and a warrior. He explains “I think that The Heart and the Fist speaks to what
every Truman Scholar probably knows instinctively, and that is that if you
really love something, if you really care about something, then you have to act
with compassion. But just as surely if you want to protect something you also
have to respond with strength. If you want to be effective in any service
endeavor…it’s going to take a combination of a compassionate response to people
who are in need and the demands of courage that it takes to be effective at any
level of the policy arena.”

Courage
is especially meaningful for Greitens, who returned from service in Iraq to
found The Mission Continues, a
non-profit organization that empowers wounded and disabled veterans to find
courage and purpose in beginning new lives as citizen leaders at home. Service
is not easy, he remarks: “One of the things that I hope the book will also show
is how difficult it was and how many times I struggled and failed along the
way…I try to make clear The Heart and the
Fist
is that real courage is not just bravery that happens in a flash, in a
moment. It is actually the courage of perseverance, the willingness to do that
thing that has to be done day after day which actually helps people to
transform their lives,” he says.

ericbrokaw

The ranks
of Truman Scholars occupy a diversity of roles in public service, but at the
heart of our collective service is the underlying passion to apply scholarship
and leadership to the genuine service to others. By sharing the lessons he has
learned from those on the front lines, Greitens hopes to help people approach
service on their own front lines with greater purpose.

Lauren Hashiguchi (OR ’10) will begin work as a
Truman-Albright Fellow after graduating from Saint Louis University in May.

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