U.S. Navy Nurse Corps veteran Carolyn Kirkland can best be described as a “firecracker.” At the age of 88, she still fits into the uniform she last wore in 1977 and has more energy than most people a quarter of her age. Always dressed impeccably in coordinated outfits with complementary accessories, she is well known in the Fauquier County community.

And she puts that energy to good use. Due to her experience with injured soldiers during her Navy nursing career, Kirkland’s passion is advocating for veterans. She is a tireless volunteer for Hero’s Bridge, a veteran support nonprofit based in Warrenton, and Boulder Crest, a nonprofit based in Bluemont that serves veterans with PTSD and their families.

This year, because of her involvement with these organizations, Kirkland was honored at Aging Together’s 5 Over 50 Celebration as the top nominee in Fauquier County.

Aging Together, a regional senior advocacy nonprofit, created the 5 Over 50 Celebration to honor older adults’ contributions to their communities. Every year they select one person from each of their five service counties for the award.

“The common thread among our 5 Over 50 honorees is their passion about something, usually related to their own personal story,” said Caroline Smeltz, director of outreach and development at Aging Together. “Along with that passion is the superpower of wisdom which only comes with age and experience. That combined force is so impactful. The 5 Over 50 celebration honors this, and it’s also an inspiration to younger generations.”

The criteria for the honor requires that nominees must be over 50 years old and have given freely in service to the community, making a significant contribution in the form of mentorship, leadership or action. Nominees are evaluated by a committee of the 13 members of Aging Together’s board of directors.

Kirkland received more than 20 nominations. “There was a lot of information from people who know her well, and collectively they told a good story about her,” said Smeltz.

Molly Brooks, founder of Hero’s Bridge, wrote in the organization’s nomination, “Hero’s Bridge is fortunate to have Carolyn’s support. Over the past six years, she has become an invaluable ambassador for the organization. She is an example of a Hero’s Bridge veteran who does more for the organization than the organization has done for her. 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 … a unique perspective and unparalleled enthusiasm.”

Read more about Carolyn Kirkland here

Become a Hero Helper.