U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2019 Joselynn Badman Ambassador of the Year is Ernie Merritt. Merritt has been an ambassador and advocate for U.S. Pain since 2014, and has been living chronic pain since he was 33 years old. In 2019, Merritt went above and beyond to support pain patients and make sure their voices were heard at both the state and national level.

“It was a difficult choice this year, and we had many qualified nominees,” says Nicole Hemmenway, interim CEO of U.S. Pain Foundation. “But Ernie’s long-time efforts to provide support and raise awareness for fellow chronic pain patients made him a clear choice for the Ambassador of the Year Award. Beyond his dedication to the pain community, Ernie is simply an upstanding individual–his kindness and generosity despite his pain is an inspiration to us all.”

Merritt has been leading a support group in Old Orchard Beach, ME, for 12 years, and recently began collaborating with University of New England medical students to provide them an in-depth understanding of chronic pain and the roadblocks patients face to getting proper treatment. He also participated in the Headache on the Hill advocacy event in Washington, D.C., in February 2019 and testified in support of step therapy reform at the Maine state house in 2018. In addition, Merritt obtained a proclamation recognizing September as Pain Awareness Month from the state of Maine.

Merritt was also featured in U.S. Pain Foundation’s most recent INvisible Project on chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis, which was published last fall, as well as September’s Pain Awareness Month Storyathon initiative. You can read his INvisible Project story here and check out his Storyathon video here.

“I am so thankful for the opportunities advocating has opened for me,” says Merritt. “I feel advocating is bringing my self-worth back and making me a stronger person, even though I live with chronic pain.”

The Ambassador of the Year Award is named after the late Joselynn Badman, an inspirational U.S. Pain volunteer who lost her battle with pain in 2015. To learn more about the award or sign up to become an ambassador, click here.