Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder
Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs
In January 2011, Governor Bill Haslam selected Many-Bears Grinder to be the Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs -- the first female in the State to serve in this capacity. She is responsible for the operation of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs' Field Offices, Claims Office, and four State Veterans Cemeteries. She is also an ex-officio voting member of the Tennessee State Veterans Home Board, which controls the three existing State Veterans Homes, and plans for future homes in Tennessee. Commissioner Grinder serves as the Southeast District Vice President for the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs.
In order to accept the State post, Grinder retired from the Tennessee Army National Guard as a Colonel with over 35 years of service. She is an Operation Enduring Freedom combat veteran, having served as the Head of Secretariat for the International Police Coordination Board. She traveled throughout Afghanistan, working with international diplomats and police as well as the Afghan leaders and local police officers, to ensure standardized training and equipment for the Afghan Police.
Grinder was inducted into the Fort Benning Hall of Fame in 2004. She is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army War College, and the Joint Forces Staff College. Her military awards include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.
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.
Commissioner Grinder is a member of numerous military and Veterans associations, including AMVETS, Vietnam Veterans of America, Women Veterans of America, Military Officers Association, the National Guard Association of the United States and is also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans.
A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Grinder moved to Tennessee in 1989 where she met and married Ernie Grinder.