Mar 31 2022
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Flippin veteran Elesha Granniss in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Granniss was born on February 20, 1977, in Albany, New York to Eileen and Henry Miller. Both her father and stepfather, Ken Schaver, were veterans. Her family spent time in Louisiana and Alabama before moving to Hattersheim, Germany at age seven.
She thoroughly enjoyed growing up in Germany. “There were a lot of things going on in Europe at that time,” she said. Granniss remembers major world events like the fall of the Berlin Wall and hostage situations across Europe, but fondly recalls some perks like visiting France and Holland for class field trips.
Her family moved back to Huntsville, Alabama for her father’s work and she graduated from Sparkman High School in 1995. After working and attending esthetician school for one year, Granniss’s life was changed by the loss of a close friend who was days away from beginning military service. She wanted to continue that legacy for her friend so she enlisted in the Air Force in the fall of 1996 with plans to travel, gain independence and find her purpose in life. She remembers being nervous to tell her parents, but both her father and stepfather were proud she would be carrying on the tradition of wearing her nation’s uniform. “They thought it was a great thing,” said Granniss.
She completed her basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Lackland, Texas. She remembers her time there fondly, except for the nickname her training instructor gave her – “BIC,” like the razor, due to her last name being Schaver.
She went to technical school for health services management to do administrative work in hospitals. Her first assignment location was somewhere familiar. “I wanted to see the world and I got stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama - three hours away from home,” said Granniss. Here, she enjoyed her work in medical records and the orderly room.
From Maxwell AFB, she new order in September of 1999 to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she worked in the resource management office. In February of 2000 she deployed to Prince Sultan Air Force Base in Saudi Arabia, where she was put on escort duty and would meet her future husband, Phil Granniss. After knowing each other for only 45 days, they were engaged and married. This May, the couple will celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary.
In September of 2000, she joined Phil at Cannon Air Force Base in Curry County, New Mexico where they stayed for five years and had their two sons. While Granniss was a staff sergeant, working in the control center, she remembers watching the events of September 11th transpire. She was seven months pregnant with her first son, her husband had deployed to Saudi Arabia two days prior and she was unsure if he had arrived yet. “That was a very stressful time,” said Granniss.
The family later moved to Lackland Air Force Base where she worked in Wilford Hall, a level one trauma center. She deployed to Sather Air Base in Baghdad, Iraq and wore many hats as she worked in patient administration, as an Aerovac technician, a unit deployment manager and a surgical technician.
One of her most memorable experiences in Iraq was joining an Army psychiatrist for interviews with high-ranking officials of Saddam Hussein’s regime during a hunger strike “I’m sitting in a room, a small room with…the psychiatrist…and she is asking them about your grandkids, your wife…it was an interesting thing to see the other side of someone. It was interesting thing to be able to see a perspective on some people,” said Granniss.
Granniss held many leadership roles throughout her military service and believed it was important “to look out for the people who were below me…I mentored, and I looked out for my people - I felt that was what my job was, to be an expert in my field…and look out for them.”
Even though her special duty lajf;lajsldfjsdf was not finished, her supervisor released her early to be with her family in Arkansas where her husband had been stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base in 2009. “I really appreciated that they were looking out for me and the best interest of our family,” said Granniss.
After 17 and a half years of service, Granniss opted for early retirement through the Temporary Early Retirement Authority. She and her family moved to Flippin where today she serves as an Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs District Veterans Service Officer and Arkansas Women Veterans Coordinator. “I feel my legacy…was to just work as hard as you can and look out for other people…it’s ‘how can I help somebody for all of us to succeed,’ and that is kind of the legacy that I hope that I had left behind.”
“I, along with our nation, am thankful for Elesha Granniss’s service to our country and her continued commitment to veterans. She is doing great work in helping female veterans in Arkansas and I am honored to have helped capture her memories from her time in uniform,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Granniss’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.