SARANAC LAKE - Homeward Bound Adirondacks has hired staff and finally has a home.
The nonprofit organization, which provides retreat and reintegration programs for veterans, announced in a press released that it will open an office this month in the Prescott House, at the top of Franklin Avenue in the Helen Hill neighborhood. It's also hired three people.
"On behalf of the HBA Board of Directors, we are pleased to announce that, effective Nov. 1, retired Army Major General Mark Graham is joining our growing HBA team as an executive consultant," Homeward Bound board President Bob Ross said in the release. "General Graham, who was nominated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for TIME Magazine's Most Influential Leaders in 2009, brings a wealth of experience to our efforts."
Homeward Bound Adirondacks has opened an office in the Prescott House in Saranac Lake, where it will establish a retreat center for veterans.
(Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)
Graham's last position was as the director of operations, plans and training for the United States Army Forces Command, the largest operational command in the Army. Graham starts work with Homeward Bound Adirondacks this month and is expected to share his time between Saranac Lake and the broader region.
Other recent hires to the Homeward Bound team include Capt. Jordanna Mallach, a Lake Placid resident and company commander in the Vermont Army National Guard, and Adrien Vlach, a Saranac Lake resident with experience in nonprofit management, business administration and program development.
Homeward Bound says it secured office space at Prescott House following collaboration and consultation with the property's owner, Steve Hilbert, and neighborhood residents. It will lease a two-room office suite in the Colonial Revival-style building and plans to grow as it rolls out programs and increases the number of returning veterans served.
Earlier this year, Homeward Bound had planned to locate in an old Glenwood Drive house once owned by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau's grandfather, Dr. Francis B. Trudeau Sr., but that would have required a rezoning that was dropped in the face of opposition by concerned neighbors.
Hilbert told the Enterprise in July that he was first approached about using the Prescott House by former Homeward Bound director Susan Waters, back when the organization was known as Patriot Hills at Saranac Lake.
Meanwhile, Homeward Bound has also recruited a Community Advisory Council that includes representatives of local health care providers, business owners, community organizers and veterans. The council meets monthly to provide direction and community support to HBA's ongoing efforts, the release states.
The organization is also developing a Veteran Reintegration Academy, in conjunction with Clarkson University, that would give veterans 45 credits of transferable classwork toward a degree program at the institution of their choosing. Additionally, HBA says it is developing a number of trauma resiliency retreats to give soldiers the tools they need to find success in the civilian world.
As more and more service members return home from Afghanistan and Iraq, Homeward Bound expects the demand for its services will grow.
"No single approach is going to work for every individual," Homeward Bound board Chairwoman Loree Sutton, a doctor and retired Army brigadier general, said in the release, "but we believe that a foundation in scientifically studied and proven trauma resiliency techniques is key to facilitating healthy transition."
"Clearly, exposure to war trauma takes its toll on the human mind, body, heart and spirit," Graham said. "We put these soldiers in harm's way; they've done their jobs; now, it's time for us to do ours."