Military, veteran and family conference focuses on cutting edge research

Earlier this week, the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) held its annual forum on Oct. 21-23 in Gatineau, Quebec. 

This year’s conference focused on cutting edge research on the topics of military, veteran, and family health research. 

According to Dr. Stephanie Belanger, CIMVHR’s associate scientific director, the forum kicked off with a panel discussing how their research has created an impact in the military and veteran communities. 

The discussion also feature a member of the military community, speaking to how the research has personally affected her life. 

Managing Editor Journal of Military, Veteran, and Family Health Research and military spouse Lacey Cranston shared her personal experience regarding her husband being diagnosed with an operational stress injury.  

This year’s conference presented emerging research on topics such as chronic pain, how mental health can be understood through big data, and the psychological consequences of sexual trauma to female military members along with military families and veteran families. 

“There’s lots of discussion, and it’s difficult to get people to get out of their break, not because they don’t want to go back into the room because of the conversations that are happening. They ask questions, and they challenge …it’s like you can even almost touch the research. It’s palpable,” said Belanger. 

Keynote and featured speakers at this year’s forum included:  

  • Lacey Cranston, Managing Editor Journal of Military, Veteran, and Family Health Research; 
  • Dr. Sanela Dursun, Director Research Personnel and Family Support, Defence Research and Development Canada;
  • Dr. Jitender Sareen, Professor and Head, Department of Psychiatry University of Manitoba and CIMVHR Fellow; 
  • Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family; 
  • VAdm. H.C. Edmundson, Commander Military Personnel Command;
  • MGen. A.M.T. Downes, Surgeon General and Commander of Canadians Forces Health Services Group; 
  • Robert Hawes, Senior Epidemiologist Directorate of Force Health Protection, Canadian Forces Health Services Group; 
  • LGen. (ret’d) U.S. Army Eric Schoomaker, 42nd U.S. Army Surgeon General; 
  • Rob Riddell, Flight Surgeon with Canadian Space Agency
  • General (ret’d) Walter Natynczyk Deputy Minister Veterans Affairs Canada 

The annual two and a half-day conference aims not only to present research that CIMVHR-associated experts have conducted recently but also to share lived experiences with the broader community. 

There are several workshops and sessions held to share information on aspects of mental and physical health, gender, transition, ethical issues, and much more. 

Also, every year at the forum, CIMVHR presents a number of awards to recognize excellence in research. 

“The researchers are always quite happy to receive a prize. It’s a recognition. Some of them are new. Some of them are mature, and even they are like wow I’m being recognized,” noted Belanger. 

One of these awards is the Military Family Health Research Award, which is presented in conjunction with the Vanier Institute. 

The forum has been held every year since 2010. In its inaugural year, CIMVHR hosted a few hundred delegates. In the years since, the forum has exponentially grown to have several thousand attendees over the years. 

To learn more about CIMVHR and its achievements over the past decade, be sure to pick up a copy of our Fall issue. 

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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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