Eric Greitens might need the Navy, but the Navy certainly doesn’t need him. The disgraced former governor reportedly has sought and received permission to return to active duty, most likely in a bid to repair his tattered image and possibly rebuild a career. The Navy should unceremoniously decline the offer to be used for his latest self-promotion tour.
The Kansas City Star reports that Greitens, a 45-year-old former Navy SEAL lieutenant commander who has been on inactive reserve status, has told friends and supporters that he plans to deploy with the Navy to the Middle East in the fall. Sounds impressive.
Conveniently, it would coincide with the anticipated publication of his fourth book. What better way to promote a book than to present its author as a hard-charging, active-duty service member struggling to get back into the fight for his country? It should be clear to Missourians by now that nothing Greitens does comes without the taint of selfishness and self-aggrandizement. He represents none of the values that U.S. military service stands for.
Recall the shame that Greitens brought upon himself, his family, his office and the entire state when news surfaced of his 2015 sexual affair with his St. Louis hairdresser. Greitens issued a public apology last year. The embarrassingly intimate details of the affair had already been laid out in court documents.
There were allegations of bondage, violence, threats and coercion. Although the criminal case against him was dropped, the publicly disclosed details of the affair and multiple ethical breaches by his administration were enough to turn his Republican Party against him. Greitens resigned almost exactly a year ago. Recent public appearances suggest he’s trying to claw his way back.
Greitens would provide the worst possible example for any service member under his charge. The Navy, like all the other military services, puts a high value on marital fidelity, specifically because infidelity can destroy morale and distract from the mission, especially during overseas deployments. The Uniform Code of Military Justice treats adultery as a crime.
Greitens’ actions while on inactive reserve most certainly brought discredit upon the armed forces because he made such a big deal about his status as a SEAL — in books, promotional videos and campaign literature — that it became inseparable from his political identity. His sexual affair with his hairdresser occurred when both were married. All the criteria appear to have been met for him to face military justice.
Greitens also broke the SEALs honor code with his constant self-aggrandizement and advertisement of his special forces status (even if, in practice, his service record was lackluster).
The Navy doesn’t need this man in uniform representing military values. The public should question the motives behind this move. Thank you for your offer of service, Mr. Greitens. But no thanks.