SARANAC LAKE - Homeward Bound Adirondacks announced the appointment of the Rev. Col. Eric Olsen (ret.) as the community-based veterans' organization's new part-time executive director this week.
Olsen succeeds Brig. Gen. Mark Graham in the position.
Olsen is a graduate of Wagner College and the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia.
The Rev. Eric Olsen
He became an active-duty U.S. Army chaplain in 1992 and in 1999 joined the New York Army National Guard. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks he volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry. There he survived an IED attack, and was awarded the Combat Action Badge.
His other awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal and the Bronze Star.
After serving as the 42nd Infantry Division Chaplain, he became chaplain of the entire New York Army National Guard in 2008.
Olsen helped design and implement the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program which helps service members and their families readjust to civilian life after their service member's deployment
"My vision for Homeward Bound is to use the Adirondacks as a healing and transition place for veterans, not just those returning from war, but also for veterans who have been back for some time," Olsen said. "We have a place of healing in the midst of natural beauty, an historic area of personal and family recreation that includes many creative and educational assets to help these men and women transition into a better sense of who they are, and to help them achieve success."
"We are extremely fortunate to have as the executive director someone of Eric's experience, expertise and commitment in working with veterans and their families on the important issues related to reintegration to civilian life," said Bob Ross, chairman of Homeward Bound's board of directors. "Eric has been intimately involved with Homeward Bound from the beginning and has played an essential role in many of the successful programs which Homeward Bound has provided over the past few years. The board is confident that under Eric's leadership, Homeward Bound will be an even more visible and positive presence helping veterans and their families, and in raising public awareness within the Tri-Lakes and beyond of how communities will be stronger as veterans successfully take their leadership roles in the communities to which they return."
Olsen and his wife, Susan, have two sons, Garth, and Evan, and live in Saranac Lake.