Ron DeSantis

Ronald Dion DeSantis is the 46th governor of Florida. He is a Republican, and a candidate in the 2024 presidential election. His political views on abortion, education, gun control, ESG, and labor unions are considered right wing.

With regard to veterans, DeSantis has sharply criticized the VA for the scandal of 2014, in which veteran deaths were linked to wait times. He co-sponsored the VA Accountability Act, which aims to increase accountability by providing for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct.

In 2004, while at Harvard Law DeSantis was commissioned as a Navy officer and assigned to JAG. In 2005 he reported to JAG Trial Service Office Command South East at Mayport, Florida. He deployed to Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan and was honorably discharged in 2010.

Medic has obtained the military personnel file of Governor Ron DeSantis.

Neither DeSantis or the Navy have disclosed  the full details of his military service. According to the Navy, “release of such information would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of Ronald D. DeSantis and other identified individuals.”

The file, heavily redacted, indicates DeSantis worked as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and international law attorney in JAG. However his work as a “JTF-GTMO scheduler/administrative officer” at Guantanamo, where uncharged prisoners were held indefinitely, remains unclear. The DeSantis campaign has not responded to media requests for clarification. The file  also shows that DeSantis acted as a physical fitness coordinator, recruiting officer, assistant urinalysis coordinator (a program related to drug screening), and an awards officer.

In the spring of 2006 DeSantis was stationed at Joint Task Force Guantanamo and worked directly with prisoners. Guantanamo inmate Mansur Ahmad Saad al-Dayfi alleged in 2022 that DeSantis oversaw forced-feedings of inmates. DeSantis denies this claim, and has backed away on the use of forced feedings, which he previously supported.

On 10 June 2006 three Guantanamo inmates allegedly committed suicide by shoving cloth rags down their own throats and hanging themselves. Their deaths fueled a debate between military officials, who deemed the suicides “an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us” by jihadists seeking martyrdom, and prison critics, who interpreted them as an act of despair by men with little hope of a fair trial or release. After the discovery of the dead inmates DeSantis was assigned investigative tasks. Critics have decried the NCIS investigation report as deeply flawed due to missing and contradictory evidence.

DeSantis returned to the U.S. in April 2008. Assigned to the Naval Region Southeast Legal Service, he was appointed by DOJ as Special Assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida. In 2019 he departed the Naval Reserve with the rank of lieutenant commander. His decorations include the Bronze Star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal. He is a member of the VFW and the American Legion.



McClatchy News Service
Florida Phoenix
FOIA Navy Reading Room

Numerous articles have been written about DeSantis at Guantanamo. Among them:

The Washington Post  DeSantis’s pivotal service at Guantánamo during a violent year

The Guardian  DeSantis in Guantánamo: questions about his past haunt the Florida governor

Democracy Now  Ron DeSantis Watched My Torture When He Was a Navy Lawyer at Gitmo

The New York Times  Inside the Unfounded Claim That DeSantis Abused Guantanamo Detainees

McClatchy News  What Ron DeSantis Saw While Serving at Guantanamo

CounterPunch  The Guantanamo Report

Jeff Kay  (independent researcher) New FOIA Documents Show Guantanamo Suicides Unlikely

Seton Hall University School of Law  Death in Camp Delta

Harpers   The Guantánamo “Suicides: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle