By Lauren Hanlon
In 2010, a small group of academic researchers, Veterans and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces began talking about a shared vision — to harness Canada’s research capacity to address the unique health care needs of our soldiers, our Veterans and their families. Not long after, their vision became a reality, and the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) was co-founded by Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada.
Working alongside visionary leaders from the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs Canada, and the Department of National Defence, CIMVHR has quickly become the hub for research that enhances the lives of those who serve, those who have served and their families.
This past November, five years after the idea became reality, CIMVHR (now more than 35 university partners strong), held their 5th annual Military and Veteran Health Research Forum (Forum 2014). With over 500 stakeholders looking on, Forum 2014 began with the announcement of over $10 million in funding for the Institute. Health Canada and the True Patriot Love Foundation announced donations of $5 million each and General Dynamics became an industry leader by adding an additional $500,000 contribution.
“This funding has made it possible for CIMVHR to look forward, and to grow. It means new partnerships, more research, and an increased opportunity to impact the health of our military personnel, Veterans and their families,” said Dr. Alice Aiken, Director of CIMVHR.
The excitement of these funding announcements was followed by a three-day agenda that included over 160 research presentations on a broad range of topics including: mental health and rehabilitation, physical health and rehabilitation, social health and wellbeing, occupational health, novel health technologies, and transitioning from military to civilian life.
“The quality of the research presented, the unprecedented level of engagement and the direct impact it all has on serving members, Veterans and their families, is what makes this Forum so powerful: together we are making a real difference,” said Dr. Stéphanie Bélanger, Associate Director of CIMVHR.
Some of the presentations at Forum 2014 focused on innovative methods being employed to study the impact that combat has, both physically and mentally, on Afghanistan Veterans. Much work is being done to analyze the mental health consequences of post-deployment reintegration, and on advancing physical rehabilitation for members injured on duty.
Forum 2014 provided researches with a venue to share their latest research findings and team up with other experts to identify the prevalent issues within this unique population. It also offered the perfect opportunity to collaborate on more effective methods of diagnosis, treatment prevention and care of the health impacts that affect our soldiers, Veterans and their families.
To wrap the event, CIMVHR announced that Forum 2015 will be in Quebec City and co-hosted by Laval University. With engagement and support steadily building, CIMVHR is looking forward to a year of growth as they work to maximize health research that will continue to serve those who serve us.