Programs & Services

Canadian Military and Veteran Conference discusses health of military families

Military families were the central focus at the seventh annual Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum and now CIMVHR can better research military family health with the announcement of their new Advanced Analytics Initiative.

Funded significantly by IBM Canada, the Advanced Analytics Initiative will explore options to better develop data in order to research military family health from various angles.

“We will be working hard to determine how we can use their database capacity to better understand military and Veteran family health needs and use patterns and barriers. This has the potential to transform how much we can know about military families,” said Dr. Heidi Cramm, Interim Co-Scientific Director with CIMVHR.

The health of military families was a common theme amongst many of the presentations at this year’s CIMVHR Forum held in Vancouver, BC from Nov. 21 through Nov. 23.

“This year’s conference was especially meaningful for research that impacts families. We had a full morning working group to dig into the need for collaboration across sectors to identify research issues, refine programs, and generate the research that supports military and Veteran families,” stated Cramm.

Some of the topics covered at this year’s CIMVHR included helping primary care physicians understand the needs of military families, families dealing with mental health issues, social support in relation to the family and household composition, and the impact of Operational Stress Injuries on spousal relationships.

Also, Laurie Ogilvie, a Military Family Services (MFS) representative spoke about the involvement of families with MFS and the reorientation of the program’s focus thanks to the input of military families.

Additionally, conference attendees had the chance to hear about families on an international scale through a presentation by Dr. Rachel Gribble, a professor from King’s College London on the wellbeing of UK military spouses during military relocation. There was also a presentation on the international work being done on children in military families.

“Regardless of the topic, the role of families and impact on families kept coming up, over and over,” stated Cramm.

Cramm also presented at the Forum on a variety of topics including reporting on recent findings for families who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a topic that Cramm said, “seemed to resonate with several CAF members who were registered at the conference.”

The Forum attracted several notable keynote speakers and attendees including Capt. Trever Green, known as the Iron Soldier, along with neuroscientist Dr. Ryan D’Arcy. D’Arcy has been working with Green to demonstrate how much brain recovery is possible and how it can continue even years after a significant injury.

Amongst the other attendees were Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of Defence Kent Hehr, LGen.(ret’d) Romeo Dallaire,  and LGen. Christine Whitecross.

Also at the 2016 CIMVHR Forum, a partnership was announced between Invictus 2017 and CIMVHR to shine the spotlight on military, veteran and family health to audiences. Next year’s CIMVHR Forum will run parallel and in collaboration with the Invictus Games in Toronto.

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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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