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Dominique Collins

Dallas County Judge Dominique Collins stands up for others in the way she wishes someone would have stood up for her as a child. The Dallas native decided on a life of service at the age of seven, pursuing a degree in law as well as enlisting in the United States Air Force.

The daughter of a Vietnam veteran, Collins experienced combat deployment during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, spending seven months as an Information Manager in the Middle East. Collins left the military in 2001 after a distinguished 12-year career and finished her law studies at St. Mary's University. She worked her way up through the District Attorney's Office to become a State District Judge.

Collins understands that the mental and physical wounds veterans face sometimes lead good people to do unfortunate things. Through her work with the Dallas County Veterans Treatment Court, Collins offers second chances for justice-involved veterans. As part of the program, Collins works with each veteran to set up goals to help them overcome the hurdles that may have led them astray of the law. Her "recipe for redemption" helps them establish a groundwork that enables them "to lead lives that their sacrifices to this country provides the rest of us to live so freely."

Veterans who successfully complete the program are celebrated by Collins in a graduation ceremony. Each is presented with a worn but revitalized and folded American flag, representing their service to our country and the renewed confidence that graduating into a life without a criminal record provides. "These veterans have made sacrifices for this country that most civilians will never know," says Collins. "Their wounds stem from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, survivor remorse, substance abuse and other factors." Her passion for this program has aided her in raising nearly $2 million in grants from the Texas Veterans Commission's Fund for Veterans' Assistance. More than 500 veterans have successfully completed the program and with Collins's help had their criminal cases dismissed and expunged.