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Wilmington resident Shirley Gerrior receives top AARP award for volunteerism

Shirley Gerrior

WILMINGTON, NC – Dr. Shirley Gerrior of Wilmington was named the most prestigious AARP volunteer in North Carolina at a ceremony in her honor held here in July. The annual AARP Andrus Award tribute recognizes outstanding individuals age 50 and older who are sharing their experience, talents and skills to enrich the lives of others. 

AARP North Carolina Director Michael Olender said, “Throughout her life, Retired Colonel Shirley Gerrior, has served others. Through her military experience she faithfully served her country. That spirit never faded as she serves her community today – especially the large number of veterans she has been helping.”

Gerrior has been working with local Veterans Benefits specialists and others to connect people to the important benefits they have earned through their military service. She has also played a major role in helping them spot, prevent, and report fraud that targets veterans and military families.

Her areas of focus are a huge concern to the military community. Nearly 60% of U.S. veterans are eligible for VA health care benefits, yet less than half of those eligible utilize them, according to RAND research. And a 2021 survey conducted by VA's Center for Women Veterans found women veterans age 50+ are the least likely group to use their earned benefits. 

Gerrior has participated several programs both locally and statewide with veterans’ benefits specialists to help connect people to the benefits they’ve earned, answer questions, and understand the VA health system.

This summer, Gerrior helped launch an updated version of the AARP Veterans Health Benefits Navigator that brings together valuable information and resources to help veterans, military families and their caregivers navigate their health care options.

AARP North Carolina Executive Council Member Wanda Wooten of Wilmington adds, “Shirley has also played a key role in preventing fraud. AARP research from 2021 finds veterans are 40 percent more likely to lose money to fraud than civilians. She leads the work that AARP is doing to help veterans in North Carolina and was instrumental in getting Governor Roy Cooper to declare North Carolina as a ‘Veterans Friendly State,”

Gerrior said, “I have been very proud to present a new education and resource hub featuring an updated AARP Watchdog Alert Handbook: Veterans Edition with intel on the latest scams targeting the military community, tips to spot other consumer frauds, and tailored resources to help veterans and military families avoid scams and fraud,” Gerrior said.

Gerrior’s background as a registered dietitian and public health nutritionist was instrumental in her creating a Health and Wellness Series for Coastal Region AARP Volunteers and for her leading Staying Sharp, AARP Brain Health series offered to AARP members in NOrth Carolina to improve brain health through smart and healthy living.

In addition to her broad range of AARP volunteer responsibilities, Gerrior serves as a Community Emergency Response Team member for New Hanover County helping coordinate emergency preparedness training nationally, statewide and locally.

North Carolina veterans and others who want to work with Dr. Gerrior, as well as other AARP volunteers and community partners, to help educate military families about issues important to their health and financial security can send a message to: NCAARP@aarp.org.  Please note your specific need or request.

About AARP Volunteers:
Join AARP’s community of 50,000-plus volunteers and donate your time and talent — in person or from home — to improve the lives of older Americans and their families. 

More on Shirley Gerrior:
Shirley has worked in the health and fitness field for over 30 years. She has a PhD in nutritional sciences from the University of Rhode Island and is registered dietitian/ licensed nutritionist and a certified exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. 

Prior to moving to Wilmington NC in 2010 she spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC as a national program leader responsible for nutrition and health research, extension, and education activities and as a senior research nutritionist leading projects of national importance to include the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Healthy People.  Also, she served in the U.S. Army Reserves with assignments as the Food Service Officer and Health Promotions Officer in medical units and hospital units in Rhode Island and Maryland.  Throughout her 23-year Army career she promoted health and wellness to enlisted soldiers and officers alike and supported medical readiness by helping to keep soldiers fit. She served on active duty in 2003 in support of Operation Noble Eagle at Fort Campbell, KY (101st    Airborne Division Support) and retired in 2005 with rank of Colonel. From 2008 to 2021, she was a contributing faculty at Walden University. She taught courses in public health biology and public health policy and practice and mentored and advised doctoral students on research and education protocols.  During her career she has published over 50 scientific articles and reports and presented at conferences on dietary guidance, nutrition and physical activity and rural health and she maintains her affiliations with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Public Health Association, American Society for Nutrition, American College of Medicine, and Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Gerrior as an AARP Volunteer:
She has been an AARP volunteer for 3 years with the NC Coastal Region.  She has participated in many activities to include AARP public health initiatives, advocacy, and outreach activities in the Wilmington and other coastal communities.  She is the Volunteer Lead trainer for the Coastal Region.  Also, she is the lead volunteer for Veterans, Military and their Families (VMF) Initiatives and is chair of the AARP-NC VMF Advisory Council, bringing together key VMF stakeholders in North Carolina. She is a member of 545 Post American Legion (Wilmington, NC) and vice-president for Post 10 American Legion Auxiliary (Wilmington, NC).

About AARP North Carolina
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