NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder in partnership with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), Drive to 55, the Governor’s Veterans Education Task Force and Austin Peay State University will host the inaugural Veteran Education Academy.
Senior campus leaders, student affairs personnel and student veteran organization representatives from more than 50 higher education institutions will attend the event with the objective of learning to support student veterans success in Tennessee. The one day event will include presentations from Student Veterans of America, the American Council on Education and discussions to create or improve action plans to recruit, retain and support student veterans through to graduation.
WHO: TDVA Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Tennessee Promise Executive Director Mike Krause, Austin Peay State University President Alisa White and representatives from more than 50 higher education institutions
WHAT: Inaugural Veteran Education Academy
WHEN: Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 9:00 a.m.-3:45 p.m. (CDT)
WHERE: Austin Peay State University, Morgan University Center, 601 College Street, Clarksville
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced the future site of the fifth state veterans cemetery will be in Parkers Crossroads.
The 132-acre Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads will be located at 693 Wildersville Road and will serve more than 45,000 veterans and their families within 17 counties in west Tennessee.
The Tennessee counties within a 75 mile radius of the proposed cemetery include Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Lewis, McNairy, Madison, Perry, Wayne, and Weakley counties.
“Right now veterans and their families in this part of the state have to drive more than two hours to the nearest state veterans cemetery,” Haslam said. “We want veterans in the more rural parts of the state to have access to these resources that also serve as a symbol of our gratitude for their service to our country.”
Haslam was also joined by state Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), state Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Parkers Crossroads Mayor Kenneth Kizer, Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes and West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee Chair Chris Dangler.
“We are grateful to the members of the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee, the mayors of the seven counties who invested local funding and support as well as the Governor, Rep. McDaniel and Sen. Gresham who have supported this effort from the beginning,” Grinder said. “We still have several funding hurdles to jump through before this project becomes a reality, but we are excited to announce we are one step closer to opening the fifth state veterans cemetery to better serve veterans in southwest Tennessee.”
“The rich history of Parkers Crossroads is a perfect location for a future State Veterans Cemetery,” McDaniel said. “We have anxiously waited to hear this news and we welcome the opportunity to offer a reverent backdrop to this future field of honor.”
“Veterans are buried at no charge in these pristine cemeteries that offer a place of reflection and reverence,” Gresham said. “We look forward to adding another jewel to the existing four state veterans cemeteries.”
There are currently two state veterans cemeteries in Knoxville, one in Nashville and one in Memphis. Veterans and eligible dependents can pre-register for burial by visiting the State Veterans Cemetery page http://tn.gov/veteran/burial_elg.shtml.
http://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.png00TN Press Release Centerhttp://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.pngTN Press Release Center2014-07-24 14:15:342014-07-24 14:15:34Haslam Announces 5th State Veterans Cemetery in Parkers Crossroads
NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of a task force to evaluate how to best serve Tennessee’s veterans seeking a certificate or degree beyond high school.
The task force is charged with the following:
To identify common educational hurdles for transitioning veterans;
To research best practices to serve student veterans;
And to make recommendations on improving opportunities for veterans to earn a certificate or degree beyond high school.
“When the men and women who have served our country come home, we want them to be able to get a high quality, good paying job,” Haslam said. “Earning a certificate or degree beyond high school is an important part of that process.
“Over the last several years, enrollment of veterans in Tennessee colleges and universities has more than doubled,” Haslam continued. “While cost is often a barrier for many students to post-secondary education, that isn’t usually the case for veterans due to federal grants and other scholarship support. We need to be better understand what unique obstacles veterans face in completing their education, and work with them to overcome those obstacles and graduate.”
Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder will chair the task force, and other members include:
Dr. Mary Lou Apple, president, Motlow State Community College
Randy Boyd, special advisor to the governor for Higher Education
Brian Gard, director of emergency management, University of Tennessee
Sen. Dolores Gresham, chairman, Senate Education Committee
Sean Martin, student representative, Middle Tennessee State University
Rep. Gerald McCormick, majority leader, Tennessee House of Representatives
Linda Mullins, VA education counselor, Belmont University
Dr. Rich Rhoda, THEC Executive Director
Dr. M. David Rudd, provost, University of Memphis
The task force is part of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative to raise the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree beyond high school from where it stands today at 32 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025.
The committee will engage a variety of stakeholders including higher education leaders, veterans, advocacy groups, and will present recommendations to the governor in June 2014.
http://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.png00TN Press Release Centerhttp://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.pngTN Press Release Center2013-11-14 19:32:422013-11-14 19:34:23TN Veterans Education Task Force Announced by Haslam
At an event near the Capitol in Nashville to honor Tennessee veterans, Gov. Bill Haslam said last week that men and women who served in the military are typically well-suited for the workforce, but often they encounter unique challenges in actually finding jobs.
“You have folks who are coming back looking for maybe a specific employment opportunity that might not exist. Or maybe they had the right training and maybe they didn’t in the military, and they need to access the training,” Haslam told reporters Nov. 6 after a Governor’s Veterans Day ceremony in which he delivered a statement of gratitude to four long-term state employees who previously served in the armed forces.
The governor said he’s sensitive to difficulties vets often face in the job market. He indicated his administration is trying to link veterans’ with steady-wage prospects as well as lend them assistance developing skills that are in demand if someone who’s left the military is lacking in that area.
Haslam said jobs with companies the administration is recruiting to locate “advanced manufacturing” facilities here are also helping vets earn paychecks.
His ongoing efforts to encourage Tennesseans to pursue paths in learning beyond high school is aimed at returned service members, too, Haslam said. “It’s one of the reasons we’re working really hard to increase adult access to post-secondary education, because a lot of our veterans are saying, ‘I need a different skill set than what I thought I needed when I first went into the military,’” he said.
Currently, more than 3,000 state government employees have also served in the United States military, which the governor said reflects a commitment on his administration’s part to take specials steps to hire former members of the armed services whenever possible. “About 10 percent of our total state workforce are veterans, and it matches up with the almost 10 percent of Tennesseans who have served in the military as well,” Haslam said.
In 2012, the the Haslam administration won legislative passage of the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management Act, a civil-service system revamp that reformed state government hiring and firing practices. One of the TEAM Act’s requirements is that the state give “interview preference” to veterans and their spouses when considering “appointments and promotions.” The idea is that “if there are two candidates with equal qualifications, knowledge, skills, etc., preference will be given to the veteran,” according to an administration press release issued when the governor signed the law a year and a half ago.
Tennessee has generally struggled with higher unemployment the past few years. The state’s rate, most recently 8.5 percent, has stubbornly hovered above the national average, now 7.3 percent. Volunteer State veterans as a subset of Tennessee’s total population look to be faring better, with a 2012 rate of 7.3 percent.
But for veterans who served in the military after the attacks of September 11, the picture is much bleaker.
Haslam said he wasn’t aware Tennessee’s unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was that high. But the governor’s veterans affairs chief said that with respect to state government jobs, the administration is doing all it can to carry out the TEAM Act’s stipulations on preferential hiring for former armed services members.
“Since the TEAM Act went into effect in October of 2012, the state has hired 717 veterans,” said Many-Bears Grinder, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veteran Affairs, who has 35 years of experience in the National Guard.
She added that her agency has formed a partnership with the Department of Economic and Community Development to assist veterans with small businesses. Also, efforts are ongoing to connect work-seeking veterans with employers seeking to hire, Grinder said, such as providing resume tips on the Department of Veterans Affairs website and hooking veterans up with job fairs like the statewide “Paychecks for Patriots” event it hosted on Oct. 17.
As for the TEAM Act and government jobs, the Tennessee State Employees Association executive director, Robert O’Connell, said it doesn’t necessarily or automatically lead to more veterans getting hired. When the TEAM Act took effect it nixed the previous point-system scheme that gave special merit-valuation for prior military service, he said.
State hiring practices are now “more subjective,” said O’Connell, who is also a veteran. Nevertheless, he said it is true that under the TEAM Act, “if the administration wants to hire more veterans, they can.”
“If they wanted to hire only veterans, they could probably end up doing it under this system, whereas they couldn’t do it under the old system,” said O’Connell.
According to figures cited in Sen. Klobuchar’s report to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, 257,000 of the Tennessee’s 525,000 veterans are considered to be in the workforce. About 48,000 of those are post-9/11 vets with 10,000 unemployed.
By comparison, Virginia has 143,000 post-9/11 veterans with 5,000 unemployed, Georgia’s has 108,500 with 15,000 unemployed, North Carolina has 89,000 with 11,000 unemployed, Alabama has 52,000 with 3,000 unemployed, Missouri has 37,000 with 3,000 unemployed, Kentucky has 29,000 with 4,000 unemployed, Mississippi has 19,000 with 3,000 unemployed and Arkansas has 16,000 with 1,000 unemployed.
The two states with higher rates of unemployment for post-9/11 veterans than Tennessee were Nevada with a rate of 22.6 percent and Massachusetts with a rate of 23.4 percent. The national post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate was 9.9 percent.
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Major General Terry “Max” Haston of the Tennessee Military Department today to recognize four veteran state employees and more than 525,000 Tennessee veterans of all ages and eras. The Governor’s Veterans Day event was held at the Tennessee Tower Plaza in downtown Nashville.
Specialist Gabriella Saulsberry served nearly three years in the United States Army while working as a Personnel Clerk in Heidelberg, Germany. After her military service, Saulsberry began her 28 year career with the Department of Human Services. She has served in several different positions, but is currently a Secretary helping clients with appointments, processing document verifications, contacting caseworkers and connecting clients with community resources in the Memphis area. Saulsberry is recognized for her military service and her 28-year career with the State of Tennessee.
Sergeant N.E. Christianson is currently an Assistant Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He has served in various roles over the course of 46 years with TDOT to include his current position as the head of the Office of Operational Efficiency. Sergeant Christianson enlisted in the United States Air National Guard in 1966 and served as an Administrative Specialist until his honorable discharge in 1972. Christianson has played a key role in executing TDOT’s top to bottom review and is now focused on implementing some of the significant operational changes that were developed during that review. Christianson is recognized for his military service and his 46-year career with the State of Tennessee.
Staff Sergeant John Smalls is currently working as a Correctional Officer at the DeBerry Special Needs Facility Housing Unit in Nashville with the Tennessee Department of Correction. Prior to his current position, Smalls retired from the United States Army after more than 23 years of active duty service to include deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He received the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, four Army Commendation Medals as well as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals. Smalls is recognized for his military service and as the state’s newest veteran employee.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 James D. Payne is currently working as an Information Systems Division Help Desk Supervisor. He has been a state employee for 25 years and 16 of those have been with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Payne has served with the Tennessee National Guard for 27 years and transferred to the Army Reserve in October, 2012. While working for the State of Tennessee, Payne has deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan for a total of 41 months.
“I am proud of this year’s honorees and the 3,060 veterans currently working for the State of Tennessee, and we also want to recognize the significant military service of the more than 525,000 veterans who call Tennessee home,” Haslam said.
“In the last year, the State of Tennessee has hired 717 employees who have claimed veteran status,” Grinder said. “It is clear military experience can create excellent, ambitious and disciplined state employees.”
“I am immensely proud of the thousands of Volunteer Soldiers and Airmen who sacrifice time away from their homes and families, often in harm’s way, protecting the freedoms we enjoy,” Haston said. “Along with the honor of serving one’s country, a tremendous sense of responsibility is placed upon our veterans and their loved ones.”
This year’s Veterans Day Ceremony included music from the 129th Army Band with the Tennessee National Guard, the American Legion Post 17 Color Guard from Gallatin, Army veteran and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter Chaplain Dorothy Barry.
World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, however, fighting ended seven months earlier when an armistice or cease fire between allied nations and Germany went into effect in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918 is generally referred to as the end of the “war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day now known as Veterans Day.
http://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.png00TN Press Release Centerhttp://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.pngTN Press Release Center2013-11-07 11:09:522013-11-07 11:09:52Haslam Recognizes TN Veterans, Veterans Employed by State
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder is honored to accept United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki’s appointment to the VA Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans.
The VA Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans is authorized to provide advice to the Secretary on the needs of minority Veterans regarding health care, rehabilitation benefits, compensation, outreach and other programs administered by VA.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of minorities serving in the Armed Forces is increasing, leading to a more socially and ethnically diverse military. However, minority Veterans are less likely to utilize VA Healthcare or file claims for federal benefits.
There are nearly 83,000 minority Veterans and more than 51,000 women Veterans living in Tennessee.
“It is an incredible honor to serve all Tennessee Veterans and this appointment from Secretary Shinseki will not only give minority Veterans another voice, but will also add the spirit of the Volunteer State to the Committee,” Grinder said. “As a woman Veteran of Filipino descent, I am extremely excited to collaborate with other members of the Committee to find solutions to improve how we support, serve and reach minority Veterans,”
http://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.png00TN Press Release Centerhttp://tnreport.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2012/07/logo_438x125.pngTN Press Release Center2013-09-27 17:19:462013-09-27 17:19:46TN VA Commissioner Appointed to Federal Committee
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced September 20-26, 2013 as POW/MIA Recognition Week. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Defense announces the identification of Major Howard V. Andre, Jr. of Memphis who has been missing in action since July 8, 1969.
Major Andre and Major James E. Sizemore of Illinois were on a night armed reconnaissance mission when their A-26A Invader aircraft crashed in Xiangkhoang Province, Laos during the Vietnam War. Both men died in the crash but their remains were unaccounted for until April 2013. The Air Force pilots will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors on September 23 at Arlington National Cemetery. They were classified as missing in action for nearly 44 years.
“We have made a commitment as a state and country to never forget the sacrifices of Prisoners of War and those still Missing In Action,” Grinder said. “The recovery of Major Andre is a reminder that our commitment to remember should endure until all of our service members are brought home.”
Earlier this year, the remains of Private First Class Glenn Shoenmann were returned to Tennessee in January after being classified as missing in action for more than 62 years. The Grundy County native reportedly died as a Prisoner of War on December 29, 1950. He was 20-years old. Family members say Shoenmann’s remains were recovered in 2004, but the identification process was not finalized until December, 2012.
More than 83,000 Americans and more than 200 Tennesseans are still missing or unaccounted for since World War II.
In 1990, the 101st Congress passed legislation to recognize the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag. Since 2011, the week beginning the third Friday of September and extending through the following Thursday of each year shall be designated as “Tennessee POW-MIA Recognition Week” to remember and pay tribute to service members captured by the enemy and those still missing in action.
As a tribute to Prisoners of War and those still Missing in Action, the well-known POW-MIA Flag will fly over the Tennessee State Capitol on September 20.
Commissioner Grinder will present Governor Haslam’s POW/MIA Recognition Week Proclamation to attending Ex-Prisoners of War during a Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Ex-POW/MIA ceremony on September 20, 2013 at the Smyrna Town Centre at 100 Sam Ridley Parkway E., Smyrna at 10:00 a.m. (CDT).
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Major General Terry “Max” Haston of the Tennessee Military Department to pay tribute to three Tennesseans killed in action, including a soldier previously missing in action for 62 years.
Sergeant Jacob M. Schwallie of Clarksville, was fatally injured by a roadside bomb on May 7, 2012 in the Ghazi Province, Afghanistan. Schwallie graduated from Rossview High School in 2007 and enlisted in the United States Army in 2008.
Private First Class Glenn Shely Schoenmann reportedly died as a Prisoner of War (POW) on December 29, 1950. The Grundy County native was involved in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on November 28, 1950 when he went missing. The United States Army Soldier was 20-years old when he was killed. Navy veteran Raymond Schoenmann accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of his older brother.
Staff Sergeant Christopher Michael Ward of Oak Ridge was fatally wounded when his patrol was struck by a car bomb on April 6, 2013 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ward was serving with Troop “A”, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Stewart, Georgia when he was killed. Joyce Ward accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of her son.
For the first time in the state’s history, Governor Haslam declared May 24, 2013 as Gold Star Family Day. Previously, the state has observed Gold Star Mothers’ Day and Gold Star Wives’ Day, but fathers, siblings and grandparents have also suffered the loss of a service member killed while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Gold Star Dad and Gold Star Mom Wayne and Brenda Gearheart accepted the first proclamation presentation from Haslam during the Governor’s Memorial Day Ceremony. Their son, United States Marine Lance Corporal Benjamin Gearheart was killed in a training accident at Camp Pendleton, California on August 27, 1997. Gearheart served three years in the Marine Corps to include a deployment to Kuwait. He was 22-years old.
“This occasion is set aside to remember the young men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” Haslam said. “The State of Tennessee also pauses to remember the surviving family members on this Memorial Day weekend as they continue to cope with the loss of their loved one.”
“It is a privilege and honor to recognize these brave heroes who will live on in our memories,” Grinder said. “Gold Star family members are all around us and they need our support because their sacrifices are also a valuable thread in the fabric that ties our state and country together.”
“Memorial Day is a day to remember all those who died serving in the Armed Forces,” Maj. Gen. Haston said. “We honor these men and women today, but we remember their sacrifice every day.”
This year is also the first time the state has presented the “Honor and Remember Flag” to surviving family members. The flag is a combination of memorial symbolism to include a large red section which represents blood spilled by service members in America’s military throughout history. The blue star represents active service in military conflicts from the American Revolution to present day. The white border around the gold star recognizes the purity of sacrifice. The gold star reflects the value of life that was given. The folded flag signifies the final tribute to an individual life that a family sacrificed and gave to the nation. The flame is an eternal reminder of the spirit that has departed this life yet burns on in the memory of all who knew and loved the fallen hero.
Governor Haslam Breaks Ground on New Montgomery County State Veterans Home
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced the upcoming construction for the Montgomery County Tennessee State Veterans Home. Haslam was also joined by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville), Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, Tennessee State Veterans Homes Director Ed Harries and Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board Chairperson Mary Ross as well as several members of the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board.
The new state veterans home will be located at 250 Arrowood Drive in Clarksville. Construction on the new site is scheduled to begin in August.
“We are incredibly thankful for the service and sacrifice by these men and women, and we’re excited to break ground on this facility that will serve the veteran community in Clarksville and Montgomery County,” Haslam said. “Tennessee is raising the bar on long-term health care for veterans at the three existing Tennessee State Veterans Homes, and we look forward to serving even more of the veteran population who has given so much of themselves.”
“The men and women who have worn the uniform of our Armed Services have ensured that the rest of us can exercise our freedoms daily,” Alexander said. “We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude and couldn’t possibly do enough to honor their sacrifice, but serving them at this facility is a stepp Tennesseans can be proud to take.”
The Ben Atchley State Veterans Home in Knoxville and Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro have both been listed among the best nursing homes in the country in the U.S. News & World Report 2013. Both received a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2012.
The application to begin the process to build the new state veterans home began in 2004. Since then, the State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management (STREAM) Division with the Tennessee Department of General Services, the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board and Montgomery County government officials considered and evaluated 13 different sites before the Arrowood Drive property was purchased for approximately $475,000. The site was approved by federal and state agencies and was donated by the county to be used as the future site for the new state veterans home. The State of Tennessee accepted and closed on the property on April 19, 2013.
Montgomery County and the City of Clarksville each contributed $750,000 to the project. The State Home Construction Grant Program with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has contributed $14.6 million. The State of Tennessee has contributed $10.8 million to the Montgomery County Tennessee State Veterans Home project to include $4.3 million in Governor Haslam’s budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.
“Although the Tennessee State Veterans Homes are self-sufficient after admissions begin, it takes a large amount of partnership, collaboration and contributions from federal, state and local agencies to construct new state veterans homes,” Grinder said. “This groundbreaking milestone is exciting because this will give Montgomery County’s veterans a high-quality of life option when around the clock health care is needed.”
The Montgomery County Tennessee State Veterans Home is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015.
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NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and state Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced May 10, 2013 is Military Spouse Day. The day of recognition for military spouses is observed throughout the country to include Tennessee.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed a day of observance to recognize and honor the contributions and sacrifices of military spouses.
The United States Armed Forces now set aside the Friday before Mother’s Day each year to pay tribute spouses who continue to take care of their families and homes while their uniformed loved ones answer the call to serve their country.
“Behind many of our great service members is an incredibly supportive military spouse,”Grinder said. “The support of military spouses is critical to our country’s mission, to the well-being of our troops and to the stability of military homes everywhere. Today, we pause to recognize military spouses for their sacrifice and enduring commitment.”