Governor Bill Lee appointed Commissioner Courtney Rogers to lead the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services on January 19, 2019. Rogers has 28 years of military experience in the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard. She retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Tennessee Air National Guard 118th Airlift Wing in 2013. Before joining the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, Rogers served three terms as a State Representative for the 45th district with the Tennessee General Assembly.
Rogers’ military service followed a legacy set forth by her father, who was a Marine aviator. Major Ralph Dryden, Jr., piloted Marine I for presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. He was killed in action in 1968 while serving in the Vietnam War. Rogers continued her family’s tradition of military service in 1980 when she was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force following graduation from the University of Southern California with a degree in International Relations and Soviet Studies. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Central Michigan. Rogers first served on active duty with Strategic Air Command as an intelligence officer with the 28th Bomb Wing in Rapid City, South Dakota. Following a remote tour in South Korea with the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, she returned to Strategic Air Command as a nuclear advisor aboard the EC-135 Looking Glass.
Rogers served as a Targeting Officer on the ground during Operation Just Cause in Panama against then-dictator Manuel Noriega. For her work there and throughout South America, she was named U.S. Air Force Targeting Officer of the Year. Her final active duty assignment was with the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, where she helped build the first fully operational targeting cell in the region for Desert Storm 1. Rogers is a Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Air War College graduate.
She and her husband Mike left active duty after the birth of their first daughter, Eryn. Rogers transferred to the Tennessee Air National Guard, taking on an assignment with the 118th Aerial Port Squadron, later becoming its commander. In her final assignment she served as the 118th Air Lift Wing Inspector General. During this time Rogers was also the Communications Manager for Bridgestone/Firestone North America Commercial Truck Tire Division.
The Sumner County resident served in the Tennessee General Assembly from 2012 to 2018. Rogers was a member of the Tennessee Legislative Veterans Caucus where she worked to provide tax and education benefits for Veterans. She was appointed as Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services following her role as Director of Recruiting and Retention for the all-volunteer Tennessee State Guard.
Rogers, her husband Mike and their three children Eryn, Kellen and Michael reside in Sumner County.