A new face has joined the Umatilla County human services department to help local veterans access resources such as filing disability claims, pensions and other benefits.

Jennifer Olson was hired Oct. 17 from the Department of Veterans Affairs office in Walla Walla. As assistant veterans service officer, it is Olson’s job to work with the 1,800 veterans in Umatilla County and make sure they are aware of tools and programs available in the community.

“A lot of my position is legal counsel for veterans in our area,” Olson said. “With all of my background, I’m able to articulate to our soldiers or airmen or seamen what’s necessary for them to file that claim, or go to school.”

Olson, 47, was raised in a military family and served three years in the U.S. Air Force. Her husband, a Pendleton native, is also an Army veteran.

In addition to assisting veterans directly, Olson said she is available to help families obtain their surviving spouse benefits. She will also work with local outreach programs, including CAPECO and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to make sure veterans and their families receive the best possible care.

“If our soldiers don’t get help, that’s where problems can arise,” she said.

Eventually, Olson said she wants to organize seminars or prepare packets that would outline, step by step, everything that’s available for veterans.

“I’ll work hard to ensure they have the best care and services possible,” she said.

Olson’s office is based out of the Bowman Building, 17 SW Frazier in Pendleton. She also works one day a week at 707 E. Broadway in Milton-Freewater. She can be reached at 541-278-5482 or via email at jennifer.olson@umatillacounty.net.

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Contact George Plaven at gplaven@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0825.