As a fighter pilot, Paul Galanti flew the A4-C Skyhawk and, as a POW, he famously appeared in his prison cell on the cover of Life magazine as a symbol of resistance. But, it was the original photo—not the airbrushed one published by Life—where Galanti was able to send a subtle message to his captors and let the rest of the world know his spirit would not be suppressed. Extending his middle fingers between his legs, he was able to get a message past North Vietnamese censors and let the U.S. Navy know that he was no defector, nor was he a "guest" at the Hanoi Hilton, but a brave American imprisoned against his will.
His story of bravery, torture, and freedom after seven years of confinement is featured in this month's issue of America's Pharmacist—and it's a story that doesn't end there. In civilian life, as the Virginia Pharmacy Association's executive director, Galanti proved his mettle over and over again by championing pharmacists and securing legislative victories that transformed the business environment for pharmacy in the Commonwealth.
As we approach Memorial Day weekend, I've spent some time thinking about Paul Galanti and my own desire to honor the sacrifices of the members of our armed forces and veterans. For me, it comes down to the concept of justice—remembering what Galanti fought for and what he was imprisoned for, and NCPA's fight for justice for community pharmacy owners.
I urge you to think about how you can find that fight, too.
One of the great injustices of our current defense department working in conjunction with their vendor-partner, Cigna-ESI, is excluding community pharmacies from its TRICARE network. It's a fight NCPA has taken up, and one that our members like Cole Sandlin have taken to heart. Cole made an impassioned statement to FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya at last month's NCPA Legislative Fly-In about the service.
"My pharmacy was opened in 1951 by my grandfather who was a WWII veteran," he said, "and due to atrocious contracts we were offered in order to serve Tricare recipients we could not even provide care for the greatest generation, like my grandfather, that fought for our freedom."
Of course, I second Cole's passion for this injustice because we owe a lot to veterans like Paul Galanti who fought for our freedom and current members of the military who helped preserve it. Memorial Day honors those who have fought for freedom. This weekend take a moment to thank veterans like Galanti and our armed forces who make that freedom possible.
B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA