Bill McRaven Awarded $50M From Bezos Courage & Civility Award

Eva Longoria was this year's other recipient

Admiral William McRaven
Navy Adm. William McRaven testifies during a 2013 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Retired admiral Bill McRaven is known for many things over his long career in the military — including his work on the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden in 2013. In the last decade, McRaven has also served as chancellor of the University of Texas system and publicly feuded with then-President Donald Trump in 2018 over questions of security clearances and ideology.

Now, McRaven has a new task at hand: determining how best to distribute $50 million to various nonprofit organizations.

McRaven, along with Eva Longoria, was named as one of the two recipients this year of the Bezos Courage & Civility Award. This puts McRaven and Longoria in the company of previous winners like Dolly Parton and José Andres. As Task & Purpose‘s Jeff Schogol pointed out, McRaven is unique among recipients of the Bezos award in terms of his military experience.

As for how he’ll be distributing the money, McRaven sounds like he’ll be doing so to causes close to his heart. “[Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sánchez’s] generous gift will truly change the lives of countless veterans and their families,” he said in a statement. “Nothing is more inspiring to those that serve than knowing that their sacrifice is recognized and genuinely appreciated.”

The Bezos Courage & Civility Award was first presented in 2021, when Andres and Van Jones were the first two recipients. As per a statement from the organization, the award is meant to honor “leaders who aim high and pursue solutions with courage and civility.” In announcing this year’s recipients, the Bezos Courage & Civility Award pointed to McRaven’s work defending democracy and his advocacy for veterans and military families as informing the decision.

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