Army Pain, Army Shame…Nation’s Gain?

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Col. Kevin Galloway / DoD photo


Interesting comment at a Tuesday morning breakfast with Army Col. Kevin Galloway, the service’s pain czar*:

You used to drive around outside a military post and what was outside — pawnshops and tattoo parlors. You know what you see now? You see pain clinics popping up. They’re meeting an unmet need that’s inside the gate. Some of them are good, and some of them are pill mills and [pain] block shops, and that’s not good for us.

Galloway, an Army nurse, has one of the most bittersweet jobs in today’s Army: a record share of wounded —  about 95%, he estimates — survive. There have been 46,542 U.S. troops wounded since 9/11 — 32,200 in Iraq and 14,342 in Afghanistan — according to Many are grievously wounded and in tremendous pain. His quest: to give these soldiers, and vets, enough medicine — as well as acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy — to ease their pain, without dulling their zest for life by putting them into a drug-induced stupor.

It could be one of the good things to come out of the post-9/11 wars. “We need to be building a [pain-reduction] model that’s worthy of replication outside the gate,” Galloway says. “We have the ability to do it — the financial incentives are so different on the outside that they will not do it, until it’s really proven that it is sound, that it will work, and that its effective and safe…the end result is, I think, we’re going to shift and recalibrate this issue not only for the Department of Defense, but for the country.”

*Of course, that’s not his official Army title; he’s the Army Pain Management Chief of Staff/Army Comprehensive Pain Management Campaign Plan Action Officer