Jerry Gunari poses with his plaque at the Gino Merli Veterans Center Hall of Fame
Yes, Gerard “Jerry” Gurnari of Dupont was surprised and honored when he got the call informing him he was to be inducted into the Gino Merli Veterans’ Center Hall of Fame, but he said, “I was more humbled than anything.”
Gurnari was the 45th inductee into the center’s hall of fame. It’s a pretty exclusive club and a tremendous honor to be associated with the late Gino Merli, a Medal of Honor winner. But Gurnari said the Vets in need are the real story
“The things we do and the services we provide, and I say ‘we’ because I am always working with other people, are what’s important. The attention doesn’t need to go to me or us, but to the Veterans who need our help.”
Gurnari, 48, retired as a staff sergeant after a 21-year Army career. A serious back problem set him on a path to helping other Vets. “As a disabled Vet, I was a person in need. The late Art Bartolai, he really helped me out and introduced me to the various service organizations and I wanted to be part of that.”
There are many supporting resources to assist Veterans and their families through the NEPA Veterans Multi Care Alliance (NEPA-VMA), Veterans of Foreign Wars, and AMVETS in this community and Gurnari is heavily involved with them all. For example he assists with the AMVETS school essay program, coordinates programs and visits at the W-B VAMC Assisted Living Center and Merli Center and he’s the Captain of the AMVETS Post #189Honor Guard.
“The phone rings everyday,” he said. “Everyday I do something with Vets. It never ends.”
And, he says, that’s the way he wants it.
Here’s what it says in the written program for his induction: “His innovative thinking, vast experience and hard work produced solid results in resolving problems and assured the earned rights and benefits for PA veterans. His commendable and dedicated service reflects great credit on him, American Veterans and Pennsylvania.”
Gurnari served as a Combat Engineer in Desert Shield and Desert Storm serving in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Turkey. He was the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with 3 Oak Clusters, Three Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Non-Com Officers Ribbon, South West Asia Ribbon with 3 Bronze Stars, Expert Marksmanship Badge for M-16, Expert Grenade Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badges.
He is an Advisory Committee Representative for the NEPA Veterans Multicare Alliance, the Legislative Liaison and Board Member from its start up.
He’s an AMVETS National District II Judge Advocate, AMVETS Department of PA Service Foundation Trustee, Greater Pittston AMVETS Post 189 Adjutant and Honor Guard Team Captain, VFW District 11 Senior Vice Commander, Post Service Officer for VFW Post #4909 in Dupont and Vice-President of their Home Association.