Brig. Gen. (Tenn.) L. Craig Johnson Retiring from Tennessee Military Department

February 8, 2021

Brig. Gen. and 14th Judicial District Circuit Judge L. Craig Johnson, whose long and distinguished service in the military culminated with his appointment as Commander of the Tennessee State Guard in 2016, has retired from the Tennessee Military Department.

According to the Department, Judge Johnson stepped down from his position effective Feb. 6. 

Judge Johnson first joined the Tennessee Army National Guard at the age of 18 in 1983. He was commissioned as an engineer in 1985 through Middle Tennessee State University's ROTC program. 

Judge Johnson was deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Storm in 1990, the same year that he earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Tennessee College of Law. 

"I think I found out I passed the bar the week we shipped out of Fort Campbell,” Judge Johnson remembered in a 2019 story commemorating Veterans Day.

After several years in private practice, Judge Johnson was elected to his current position in the 14th Judicial District in 1998. 

Judge Johnson was deployed several more times in the ensuing years, including to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and in 2009-10. 

He retired from the Tennessee National Guard in 2015, but duty called again the following year when he was asked to command the Tennessee State Guard. 

On the bench, Judge Johnson has made it a priority to help veterans who are struggling with substance use disorders or mental health issues through the Coffee County Veterans Treatment Court program. Judge Johnson has presided over the Court since its founding in 2016. 

While Judge Johnson is retiring from the military, he will continue to serve the people of the 14th Judicial District as judge. 

When he spoke about these two different parts of his career in 2019, he noted that administering justice in the courtroom and serving in the armed forces have some crucial aspects in common. 

"It takes a team to get to the truth and of course in the military that’s what it’s all about, teamwork," he said. "It’s not just about the commander or the boss, it’s about everybody doing their job to get the mission accomplished.”

To read about Judge Johnson's military service in greater detail, read this article announcing his retirement from the Tennessee Department of the Military.