Last week, the sixth annual Military and Veteran Health Research Forum brought together researchers from 40 Canadian universities, members of the military and veteran community and clinicians to discuss the latest research on mental health and well being for military personnel, veterans and their families.
The forum, held in Quebec City from Nov. 23 to 25, included over 180 presentations highlighting research in eight key areas all focusing on former and current members of the CAF and their families. The eight themes were: mental health research and rehabilitation, physical health and rehabilitation, social health and well-being, latest health technologies, transition to civilian life, occupational health, gender differences in health, and the ethics of health care.
The Forum gives a chance for all parties impacted by research on veterans and the military to meet and share information.
“The policy makers get to meet the researchers. The beneficiaries meet policy makers and researchers so there’s a lot of great networking that goes on, it’s all the interested parties on every end of the spectrum. So the people doing the research, the people translating the research, the people that are making the policy and developing programs, are all gathered here. They have a chance to exchange good current info and the latest evidence,” said Dr. Alice Aiken scientific director for the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research (CIMVHR).
Notable military figures present at the Forum included side Lieutenant-General Guy Thibault, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.
“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 personnel, their families, and our veterans. It is important to sustain the relationships between universities and research organizations to advance health care for Canadians,” said Thibault.
The Surgeon General, Brigadier General H.C MacKay, was also present.
“The CAF undertakes essential military and veteran health-related research in collaboration with VAC, but we also engage with other research bodies to meet our research requirements. 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. Much of the research, in particular in relation to trauma care and mental health, will also have relevance to the health of all Canadians, and will inform the civilian health system,” said MacKay.
The CIMVHR was established in 2010 when the first forum was held six years ago in coalition with Queens University and the Royal Military College of Canada. Originally 16 universities decided to join together to conduct research that would benefit the military community. Today, 40 universities work with CIMVHR focusing on research, education, knowledge translation and partnership and capacity building.
The first forum of its kind in Canada, it has evolved over the years from the first forum that focused on generating ideas to today’s that shares concrete results. This year the Forum also had international participation from seven countries.
“Academics leave excited about the potential for future research. The clinicians leave knowing the latest evidence is helping veterans and military families in their communities. The military leaves knowing the most current evidence is helping them to form their policies and programs and the veterans leave knowing the academics in Canada support them,” said Aiken.