Jeff Barnes was appointed to the cabinet-level position of Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) by Governor Rick Snyder effective March 20, 2013.
Jeff began his career serving nearly 10 years as an Armored Cavalry Officer in the United States Army. His overseas assignments include 1 tour in Korea, 1 in the Balkans and 2 in Iraq. In 2003, Jeff’s Squadron was the lead unit of the US Armed Forces from Kuwait to Baghdad. Jeff commanded B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 7th United States Cavalry and conducted operations in Baghdad, Balad, and Fallujah. His unit was accredited for capturing over 25 Al Qaeda and Fedayeen operatives, establishing a Forward Operating Base in Ad Dujayl and meeting with community leaders to establish humanitarian relief initiatives for local school systems and vital infrastructure. Jeff was chosen for a second command and led HHT, 3rd Squadron, 7th United States Cavalry in Baghdad during 2005. The unit included over 300 soldiers and was responsible for a wide range of combat and combat support operations. His unit planned and conducted over 350 operations to interdict insurgents, identify and destroy countless enemy weapons caches and provide support to sustain outposts and Forward Operating Bases throughout central Iraq. At the same time, Jeff’s unit provided humanitarian relief and medical support to over 2500 Iraqi children and adults in an effort to build community relations.
Jeff’s awards include 2 Bronze Stars with Valor Device, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, and induction into the Honorary Order of St. George for Outstanding Leadership in Combat.
Jeff served as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Director of Strategy and Executive Director of Public Safety where his efforts included supporting the “Secure Cities Initiative,” and developing Michigan’s Cyber Security strategy. He also served as a member of the Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Reinvention (CLEAR) and led efforts to improve public safety with “Next Generation” public safety communications and enhanced forensic science services statewide.
Jeff holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy where he concentrated on National Security and State and Local Government issues. He is also a graduate of the United States Army Airborne School (Fort Benning, GA), Armor Captain’s Career Course (Fort Knox, KY) and the Combined Arms Services Staff School (Fort Leavenworth, KS).
He is married to Taryn Barnes, a combat Veteran and a former United States Army Aviation Officer.