Lois Atkin is the director of social services at Payson Care Center in Payson, Arizona.
Atkin was a medical social worker for hospice for 12 years and says she was proud to have served the community. She has played the violin since she was 7 years old and was honored to be a member of the Erie Philharmonic, Yavapai Symphony in Prescott and Concert Master for the Rim Civic Orchestra in Payson.
Unfortunately, Atkin had an accident in the 1980s that cut the nerve and tendons in her left hand and was told by the surgeon that she would never play the violin again.
“However, the surgeon did not know me well,” she said. “I have adjusted my fingering and developed a different vibrator and continue to make music in spite of this disability.”
Atkin’s career since receiving her social work degree has spanned from Washington, D.C., where she was a researcher for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa at World Bank to Phoenix, where she worked as personnel director for Southwest Forest Industries, was a business owner of a design and graphics company, served as a court room clerk for Superior Court and as a violin and band teacher for Payson Elementary Schools.
“This career path has enabled me to have the knowledge and experience in social work, personnel, business and legal to assist many patients and families with various problems to help resolve their issues and provide them comfort and support,” Atkin said.
In her job at Payson Care Center, Atkin regularly participates in the facility’s salutes to its veterans.
“I am honored to be part of the Veteran Salute Team, which was initiated by Hospice Compassus and continues at Payson Care Center. I attended college during the Vietnam era and lost my two best friends, who served and returned home to die in their late 20s from an unknown disease, which I believe was due to exposure to Agent Orange. During my college years, I stood firm against the Vietnam protesters and at times risked my safety and would do it again for our troops.
“I am privileged to honor our veterans as they are heroes who love their country as they stand proud, defend our Constitution and sacrifice their freedom so we don’t lose ours.”
Atkin said the most memorable veteran salute she witnessed was with a World War II veteran who was blind and wheelchair-bound. When he heard the captain say, “Attention!” he hung on to his wheelchair and began to stand.
“After several minutes, he stood and proudly saluted. I began to cry and felt the overwhelming pride and love for his country and the power of his salute. I made him laugh later as I thanked him for making me cry as I could not see my music. God bless our veterans, and God bless America.”