Delaware court honors veterans, bailiff raises donations

Date Published: 
July 7, 2017

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Oscar Gonzales, with his children, Diego, Niko and Henry, created a shadow box so veterans could display their awards anonymously.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Oscar Gonzales, with his children, Diego, Niko and Henry, created a shadow box so veterans could display their awards anonymously.Prior to gaveling in the start of a Veterans Treatment Court session last week, Delaware Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes took time to call attention to the great work being done for veterans in Sussex County.

“A lot of good things are happening because we have a great number of people and organizations that are pitching in for our veterans,” said Stokes.

He called attention to Home of the Brave in Milford, a non-profit whose mission is to “reduce homelessness among our military veteran population,” and its executive director Jessica Finian.

Home of the Brave not only offers transitional housing for male and female veterans (along with their children), but also assists with employment, counseling services, access to healthcare, transportation and locating affordable housing.

“She has what I call a ‘can-do’ attitude,” said Stokes. “Nothing was handed to Jessica. It was her mission to establish facilities to take care of homeless veterans... It didn’t come easy. She had to go to bat several times…

“I want you to be recognized for the good work that you do,” he told her.

Also, on June 29, Stokes called out the efforts of Superior Court Chief of Security Rene Flores Sr., who served in the U.S. Army and Air Force reserve, beginning his military career in 1987. Flores retired as a senior master-sergeant, having been deployed in various combat areas, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Flores reached out to his colleagues throughout Georgetown to collect a great many household goods, a “wish-list of items,” to donate to Home of the Brave.

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Judge Richard F. Stokes is surrounded by volunteers and bailiffs at Veterans Treatment Court.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Judge Richard F. Stokes is surrounded by volunteers and bailiffs at Veterans Treatment Court.

“This was Rene’s idea. He talked about what ways we can help Home of the Brave,” said Stokes. “Rene circulated material to our court — Superior Court — Court of Common Pleas, Public Defenders Office, Attorney General’s Office, VFW [Post 2931], and all different sources… As Rene stepped up to the plate, so did everybody else.”

“I can’t take all the credit,” said Flores. “My team of bailiffs were presented with a challenge to do this, and they all stepped forward.”

A new mural in Courtroom 3 was also unveiled last week, reading “Thank you to all who have served and all who are still serving!” with the seal of each branch of service displayed.

“That’s something me and my bailiffs have had a passion for — to decorate that area to recognize our veterans,” said Flores, noting that he worked closely with Steve Weaver to make the mural a reality.

“As most of you are probably aware, we’re in a budget crunch with the State. So, I approached Mr. Weaver, and he gladly donated all the materials and labor to the Superior Court and the Veterans Court. So, I would like to take this time to thank him.”

On the opposite wall is a shadowbox created by the Gonzales family, in which veterans may anonymously display their medals.

“It was a good family project,” said Oscar Gonzales, a retired U.S. Army Ranger who worked with his three sons — Diego, 17, Niko, 14, and Henry, 15 — to create the box.

“It’s a very rewarding feeling, knowing that the use of this will bring a feeling of gratitude to veterans,” said Niko Gonzales.

“They definitely deserve the recognition,” added Diego Gonzales.

The Gonzales family is actively involved in a number of military-focused organizations, including Operation SEAS the Day.

Gonzales, a third-generation military man, said he is proud of his sons and their work.

“They are awesome. They can do anything they put their mind to. They are very inspired by veterans, and that inspires me.”

To learn more about Home of the Brave, visit homeofthebravefdn.org.