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AVASW Social Worker of the Quarter 2015

AVASW Social Worker of the 4th Quarter
Brian Atkinson, LCSW
Brian Atkinson

AVASW is proud to select Brian Adkinson as the Social Worker of the 3nd Quarter! Mr. Adkinson currently serves as the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Northern California VA Medical Center, and has been there since 2012.  Mr. Adkinson came to the VA after he read that 18 Veterans a day were dying by suicide, and wanted to do something to change that horrific statistic. So, he began to earnestly look for the SPC position and found himself leaving Kansas, and heading to California. He states he has a passion for the disenfranchised, and prior to working with the VA, worked for the Lansing Correctional Facility, where he created the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) program, as well as coordinated Palliative Care, and supervised SW interns.
When asked what he brings to this position, he sums it up by saying “a different perspective, I work hard to make myself available”, and it shows. Others who work with him comment that he manages to stay positive under some very real stressors and strains and that “truly amazing coverage regarding all manner of suicide prevention, ranging from consultation, guidance, assistance with calls, and trainings” continues to happen despite the obstacles.

Mr. Adkinson was awarded the Kansas Correctional Employee of the Year in 2012, as well as 2010 CCS 5 H’s Award that exemplifies the values of Honesty, Humor, Hungry, Hard-working, and Humility, whose traits he still exemplifies today. For self-care, he is “at peace in nature”, he enjoys hiking and gardening.
While working short staffed in the Northern California region this past three years, he has also been instrumental in bringing International Survivor day to the East Bay in 2013, participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk every year, and is a Douglas County AIDS Project Board Member.

Research involving to interventions that work is a process about which Mr. Adkinson is passionate. He sees his, as well as his fellow SPC’s efforts are working in helping Veterans and staff alike has those “difficult conversations” regarding suicide. He keeps up on the latest laws, rules and policies that might affect or change the way we deal with suicidal ideation, and in that way helps all of us be a little better for it.
He states his fellow team members have allowed him to “thrive”, as they “rely on one another despite the challenges”.

Congratulations Brian!


AVASW Social Worker of the 4th Quarter
Lori Paris, LCSW

AVASW is proud to select Lori Paris as the Social Worker of the 4th Quarter! Ms. Paris currently serves as the Medical Foster Home Coordinator for Southern Indiana for the Robley Rex VA Medical Center (Louisville, KY) and has been there since 2012.  She also currently serves as adjunct professor at the University of Louisville teaching Advanced Research and Social Gerontology. If that isn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a private practice, contracting with DCS in her community.
Her road to the VA is through geriatrics, as she received her Master’s in Social Work, with a specialty in Gerontology. Her love of marketing and community work inspired her to apply for a job working with Veterans who are in need of alternate living arrangements in the community. When asked how she manages her time, she states “I like to keep busy; it doesn’t feel like work, it’s a pleasure”.

She is in the midst of earning her certification in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and, as such, noted a lack of awareness of this model of therapy in her region.  She has made it a personal goal to educate others on this subject through her community and academic channels. She is also in the midst of spearheading a pilot study for Veterans through the Institute on Aging helping Veterans and the Area Agency on Aging, and has been instrumental in the creation of a Community-VA coalition.
She has presented at the NASW KY Conference on the topic of Medical Foster Homes and Community Partnerships. Also, Ms. Paris is organizing and participating in an upcoming Mental Health and Aging symposium on Sexuality and Aging. She is on the steering committee for dementia, and has created a presentation called “Empathy for our Heroes”, where she uses Social Work values as a training opportunity for staff and other professionals. She is hoping to bring this awareness to not only her local area, but to regional, and eventually national.

LeAnn Bruce, Ms. Paris’ direct supervisor, states, “Lori’s passion for social work and serving Veterans is contagious—Her enthusiasm and energy motivates and inspires others to get involved and work together to serve our Veterans.  She is an asset to our team!”
When asked what hobbies she enjoys, she states “volunteering”!

Congratulations, Lori!



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