Meet a Stakeholder: Elijah Sacra

Elijah Sacra

Member of the VOICE Advisory Board since 2017

Elijah Sacra portrait
Photo by: Shawn Tomkinson Photography

What is one thing you really like about being a member of a patient advisory committee?

I am a US Marine Corps Veteran and health and wellness professional who suffered from chronic pain for two decades. After navigating the VA space and exploring hundreds of solutions, I founded a nonprofit, Warrior Wellness Solutions, that delivers rehabilitative exercise and functional medicine health coaching to wounded, ill, and inured veterans, service members and their families. It is exciting to have a space to share and influence future research with solutions that I have used as a practitioner to help transform my own life and the lives of others that fight similar struggles.

What is one interesting experience you had at a patient advisory committee meeting or a time when you thought the patient input really helped the research team?

In many cases research is being done in an isolated manner that isn’t examining multi-faceted variables in a patient’s lifestyle. I have been able to stress the importance of improving functional movement patterns and share facets of the Functional Medicine model encompassing individualized patient care based on a patient’s story.

How has being part of a patient advisory committee affected your attitude about research generally or the UW-Madison?

Prior to being on being on the Veteran Engagement Panel, I viewed research as something that took a long time, was a waste of money, and kept patients from getting services in a timely manner. I felt researchers were out of touch with the ground level needs of patients and didn’t have the proper liaison to access the communities they were serving. Since serving on the Durham, NC VA Veteran Engagement Panel and the Minneapolis VA VOICE Study for Chronic Pain I have renewed faith in the process as panel members give a voice to the needs of the community and guide research in directions that will have sustainable impact and value. Additionally, I have learned how modern research protocols are important from an ethics perspective given historical inequities.

Blueberry Pancake the pig

Please tell me something interesting about yourself that people might be surprised to learn about you.

My family and I live in rural North Carolina on 13 acres where we own 12 chickens, 2 dogs, and a pig named Blueberry Pancake.


Each month, WINRS interviews a community or patient advisor about their experiences on an advisory board or committee. Know someone on one of your advisory boards who might want to be interviewed? Email