Annual military research forum highlights needs of military families

Held during the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, the largest-ever Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum was held from Sept. 25-27 in Toronto.

Now in its eight year, the CIMVHR’s annual Forum brings together more than 40 Canadian universities, working in unison to address the health research requirements of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel, veterans and their families.

Every year researchers and stakeholders highlight the latest research in mental health, physical health, rehabilitation, new health technologies, and the transition from military to civilian life.

Notably, this year’s forum largely focused on family research, according to CIMVHR Co-Scientific Director, Dr. Heidi Cramm.

“The growth in the military and veteran family space has been so incredible,” said Cramm.

In the last five years, Cramm notes that there has been an “explosion” in the family field, in terms of research and discussing the impact service has on them.

There is also a visible broadening of defining families and what their needs are.

“We’re starting to see families, who are a distinct population independent of the serving member as well. So, that the family member may have needs in relation that person’s service, but it may not be connected to that,” stated Cramm.

As part of this new boom in research on families, Dr. Cramm, thanks to a research grant from Queen’s University, recently brought together experts from various fields from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to discuss and share policies surrounding families in their respective countries.

There are also increasing studies on how families do in the face of illness and injury and their issues surrounding transition to civilian life.

Every year, CIMVHR’s annual forum attracts upwards of 450 Canadian researchers, clinicians, military personnel, veterans, industry stakeholders, government representatives, and international delegates.

This year’s CIMVHR Forum included speeches from several high-profile guests including His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, and the new Minister of Veterans Affairs and Association Minister of National Defence, Seamus O’Regan.

Several high-ranking officials from the military were also present at the forum including Lieutenant-General Chuck Lamarre, Commander Military Personnel Command, and Brigadier General Andrew Downes, Surgeon General.

“The Military and Veteran Health Research Forum represents an essential step in building capacity in military and veteran health research in Canada, to improve health outcomes for our military personnel, our veterans, and their families. It is critical to sustain the relationships between universities and research organizations to advance health care for all Canadians,” said Lamarre.

The military takes a keen interest in the research coming out of CIMVHR Forum.

“The CAF conducts essential military health-related research with partners in other government departments, like Veterans Affairs Canada, as well as with our allies and academia. The CIMVHR and this forum provide a special capability, and an essential contribution to this research across the full spectrum of military and veteran health. Additionally, much of the research, in particular in relation to trauma care and mental health, may have relevance to the health of all Canadians,” said Downes.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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Canadian Military Family Magazine