Governor Haslam Recognizes Tennessee Veterans

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 | 09:55am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam today joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Colonel Jimmie Cole from the Tennessee Military Department to recognize five veteran state employees and more than 506,000 Tennessee veterans of all ages and eras.  The Governor’s Veterans Day event was held at the Tennessee Tower Plaza in downtown Nashville.

“It’s an honor to celebrate these veterans and the contributions they make to state government,” Governor Haslam said.  “There are nearly 3,000 veterans working for the state, and we are grateful for their military service and their service to Tennessee.”

 “Governor Haslam’s education initiatives and unwavering focus to bring high quality jobs to Tennessee have created an ideal environment for a successful next chapter for transitioning veterans,” Grinder said.  “Student veteran enrollment is up, unemployment for veterans is down and partnerships are on the rise to continue the momentum in these areas that can change lives for those who have served.”

Haslam recognized the achievements of five veteran state employees currently making a difference within the department or agency that nominated them for the honor.

Steven Brown is the Human Resources Program Director at the Department of Human Resources (DoHR).   Sergeant Major Brown retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013 with 26 years of service, including deployments to Kuwait, Italy, Hungary and Afghanistan.  During Brown’s two years DoHR he has reorganized the Records Management Division and worked with the Fiscal Services Division to reevaluate the agency’s electronic file storage which has resulted in an annual 47 percent reduction in cost. 

U.S. Army veteran Donna Cameron has worked for the state of Tennessee for 29 years and in 2013 was promoted to Office of Inspector General (OIG) Program Manager.  As program manager, Cameron has reorganized her division and added bilingual employees to improve customer service on the OIG hotline.  This initiative has resulted in an average of 20 new calls for service each month. 

Brandon Geesling is a Wildlife Officer at the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA).  Previously, Sergeant Geesling served as a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps which included a deployment to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Geesling has worked for TWRA for eight years and has been selected as Officer of the Year in District 31.  Recently, his      investigative abilities led to the prosecution of several individuals involved in one of the largest deer poaching rings in the state.  This year, Geesling traveled to South Carolina to work with emergency agencies involved in rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin.

Kevin Mahoney has worked for the state for five years and is the Budget Director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).  Previously, Specialist Mahoney served as a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army which included tours in Kuwait and Iraq.  Mahoney’s efforts led to two successful year-end close outs with no additional funding requests needed and $8 million returned to the General Fund.  In 2014, he received the Nashville Chamber of Commerce Nashville Emerging Leader Award in Finance. 

Tom Morrison is the Veteran Education Assistant Executive Director at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).  Previously, Commander Morrison served 21 years in the U.S Navy.  Before coming to THEC in 1999, Morrison worked at Austin Peay State University as a Certifying Officer.   His efforts have resulted in providing education and training for 14,000 Tennessee veterans currently receiving GI Bill benefits.  Morrison has been instrumental in the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Program.  Since 2014, 12 institutions have received the VETS Campus designation.

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of veterans enrolled in higher education institutions increased by 192 percent.  The unemployment rate among veterans has decreased from 7.3 percent in 2012 to 4.5 percent in 2014.

To learn more about veteran jobs, education and business resources, visit