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Many-Bears Grinder

Veterans Services

In January 2011, Governor Bill Haslam appointed Many-Bears Grinder as the Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services. She is the first woman to serve the State of Tennessee in this capacity.

In order to accept the appointment, Grinder retired from the Tennessee Army National Guard as a Colonel with more than 35 years of service. The Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran served in Afghanistan as the Head of Secretariat for the International Police Coordination Board.

Grinder holds a Master's Degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College and a Master's Degree in Human Resources Development from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Grinder was inducted into the Fort Benning Hall of Fame in 2004. Her military awards include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

As Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, Grinder is responsible for the operation of TDVS Field offices, Claims Division and four (4) State Veteran Cemeteries. She is also an ex-officio voting member of the Tennessee State Veterans Home Board (TSVHB). TSVHB oversees the operations of the three (3) existing Homes.

Under her leadership, the department focus increased to include “Everything Veteran” to improve customer service to Tennessee veterans. The department has improved claims assistance efficiency through digital claims processing, is now offering online pre-registration for burials at the Tennessee State Veterans Cemeteries and serves as support for Veteran Treatment Courts. TDVS is making strides regarding higher education access for student veterans, increased recruiting of veterans for workforce development programs and veteran business resources.

Commissioner Grinder is a member of numerous military and Veterans associations, and is the Vice President for the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) Southeast District. In September 2013, United States Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki appointed her to the VA Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans, to provide guidance on the needs of minority Veterans regarding health care, rehabilitation benefits, compensation, outreach and other programs administered by VA. In November 2013, Governor Bill Haslam formed the Governor’s Veterans Education Task Force and appointed Commissioner Grinder as Chair of the group charged with finding ways to improve recruiting, retaining and supporting student veterans through to graduation.

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Grinder moved to Tennessee in 1989 where she met and married her husband, Ernie Grinder.