Department of Defense, VA launch Joint Pain Education Program

Common pain education and training curriculum aims to reduce inconsistencies in pain management for veterans and uniformed service members.

NATIONAL HARBOR — In an effort to improve consistency in clinical pain management for veterans and uniformed service members transitioning between the two systems, the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration is developing a common pain education and training curriculum.

The Joint Pain Education Program (JPEP) aims to strengthen the development of patient-centered, team-based models of pain management care across the military and veterans’ healthcare systems, the agencies announced in a poster session at the American Academy of Pain Medicine 2015 meeting

“The development of a common pain management education curriculum is a great example of the improving coordination of care across the DoD and VHA,” said Rollin Gallagher, MD, MPH, the VHA’s deputy national program director for pain management.

Despite articulating mutually consistent standards and policies for chronic pain care via the DoD’s 2010 Pain Task Force Report and the VHA’s 2009 Pain Management Directive, implementation and dissemination of the two policies has been inconsistent, according to Gallagher.

Military personnel and veterans often have numerous complex conditions that can complicate pain management, including traumatic brain injury, depression and substance abuse. 

“If training deficiencies are not addressed, incoming professionals will continue to be inadequately prepared, perpetuating the cycle of poor care leading to negative outcomes,” he said. 

Development of the DoD-VHA pain curriculum aims to help reduce inefficiencies that arise from separate and competing initiatives in various branches of the uniformed services. JPEP will be mutually funded by the DoD and VHA from the Joint Incentive Fund (JIF), which was established by the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act. The Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management will coordinate the program.


  1. Hanling S et al. 189. “VA/DoD Joint Pain Education Program.” Presented at: AAPM 2015. March 19-22, 2015; National Harbor, Maryland.