Hero’s Bridge is fortunate to have the support of Navy nurse veteran Carolyn Kirkland. We first met Carolyn in 2018, and over the past six years, she has become an invaluable ambassador for the organization.

Carolyn enthusiastically promotes the organization to veterans who may benefit from our services, as well as those whom she feels should help support it. She brings to Hero’s Bridge a unique perspective and unparalleled enthusiasm.

Carolyn was raised at Mooseheart Child City after her father died and her mother suffered a breakdown from the loss. There, Carolyn thrived. When she graduated, she studied nursing in the adjacent town and worked at Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Illinois, and then at the Conrad Hilton and Palmer House in Chicago.

Carolyn was inspired by Cherry Ames’ book about being a flight nurse and reached out to an Air Force recruitment representative. At 29, Carolyn was too old for recruitment. The following day, she called the Navy and not long after she took her oath to serve.

Her first orders sent her to Oakland, California, where she saw a familiar face. The head nurse was the same nurse who chased Carolyn through the halls at Mooseheart for her annual shots years earlier.

For three years, she worked on a 20-bed amputee ward and was required to lift servicemen catastrophically wounded in Vietnam in and out of their beds. Her next assignment sent her to Naples, Italy, where she worked on hepatitis cases.

When she returned to the States, she was stationed at Quantico, where she met a young Marine named Bud Kirkland. She and Bud married and made their home in Fauquier County. Carolyn ended her naval career after ten years.

Today, she tirelessly advocates for Hero’s Bridge and, through Hero’s Bridge, for aging veterans. She has carried a compassion for veterans suffering from PTSD since her days in Oakland and implores them to seek help to prevent veteran suicide.

Carolyn is one of nearly 20 veterans whose image is displayed in the Hero’s Bridge Guardians of Freedom travelling exhibit, and she has been featured in several local media pieces.

Carolyn is an example of a Hero’s Bridge veteran who does more for the organization than the organization has done for her. Her strong health, positive attitude, and busy schedule put her in the very best position to enjoy a high quality of life in her senior years.

It is for this reason and many more that Hero’s Bridge nominated Carolyn Kirkland for the Aging Together 5 Over 50 award, which highlights the significant contributions of adults to our communities.

Hero’s Bridge was one of over 20 nominations that Carolyn received.

On May 1, surrounded by her friends and community members, she received her award.

Perhaps all along we realized that May would be the month to honor Carolyn Kirkland because during the holidays, we created 2024 calendars for our donors, and chose May for Carolyn since she will celebrate her birthday this month.

It looks like she has a lot to celebrate!