"It's said that in war there are no unwounded soldiers," said Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan in her opening remarks to the court. She added that presiding over the veterans court session is the "most rewarding thing I do as a judge." 

She lauded the efforts of the graduates and her treatment court team, who work together over the 18-24 months it takes to help participants find long-term jobs, housing, and community support. "The challenges are many and complicated," she said, adding that the goal is to hold veterans accountable while returning them to their communities to lead "healthy and productive roles in society."

"I felt alone, at 49, in a jail cell," said Navy veteran and graduate Peter Bell. "This court gave me so much hope. I felt that no one was judging me." 

"I owe this court my life," said Iraq Army veteran Michael Guerard, who was homeless when he first entered the program. Today, Mr. Guerard is employed by the Veterans Administration in Jamaica Plain and lives in transitional housing nearby. "The judge treated me like a person, not a file. I appreciate everything this court has done and couldn't be happier." 

State Senator Michael Rush, author of the Valor Act, introduced keynote speaker and U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch. Representative Lynch thanked the graduates for their service, and offered encouragement to continue their efforts and hard work in the days ahead.

"This land will remain free only as long as it's the home of the brave," said Judge Hogan Sullivan as she ended the ceremony. 

Dedham veterans court graduation
Specialty Courts Administrator Sheila Casey, Court Administrator Harry Spence and Commissioner of Probation Edward Dolan chat before the ceremony.
Chief Justice Paula Carey
Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey (standing) welcomes the group as Clerk Magistrate Salvatore Paterna, Director of Specialty Courts for the District Court and presiding Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan, and District Court Chief Justice Paul Dawley listen.
Chief probation officer Jeffrey Jarasitis
Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan thanks Brookline District Court Chief Probation Officer Jeffrey Jarasitis for his efforts to help establish the Norfolk County Veterans Treatment Court, the first of its kind in the state. Prior to his promotion earlier this year, Chief Jarasitis had been a Probation Officer with Judge Hogan Sullivan's team in Dedham.
U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch addresses the graduates.
U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch addresses the graduates.