Olsens Assigned to IHQ
Captains Mike and Ruth Olsen, until recently assigned as corps officers in El Paso, Texas, have now been appointed to the department of Disaster and Refugee Services at International Headquarters in London. Olsen will lead the office as the International Emergency Services Coordinator, while Ruth will serve as International Emergency Services Administrative Assistant. He replaces Major Roland Sewell, who was promoted and assigned as Chief Secretary for Nigeria.
Olsen has had extensive training and experience in emergency and disaster relief work. Prior to officership he served as Chief of Paramedics for the Seattle Fire Department and then as Director of Emergency Medical services for FEMA, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. This position was a presidential appointment during the Carter Administration.
Mike and Ruth Olsen became auxiliary captains in 1987 out of the Pasadena Tabernacle. He was called upon for emergency response work at the time of the El Salvador earthquake in 1987, the 1990 Bay Area earthquake, the Los Angeles civil unrest period during 1991, and Hurricane Iniki, which hit Hawaii in 1992. From 1992 to 1996 he and Ruth served in both Russia and the Ukraine. They concluded appointments there as regional officers for Ukraine and Moldova.
The IHQ position will require Olsen to make detailed assessments of emergency situations, acting either as a consultant to a territory where an Army presence exists or as a representative of the Army where there has been no Army presence. In this capacity, where the Army does not anticipate establishing a permanent presence, he will assist in that effort. The International Disaster Services and Refugee Office does not have any permanent funding reserve, so Olsen will also be required to assist in generating support for Army emergency disaster relief. The agency, Salvation Army World Service Organization (SAWSO), has played a vital role in this regard in the past, and Olsen is hopeful the model can be replicated in other areas of the world. He intends to tour areas immediately where there are existing programs, such as Kosovo, Nicaragua, Yoigo, Somalia and Rwanda.