Health

Research on family matters
Military Health Matters

Research on family matters

In May, Canadians will be asked to fill in a census question important to every veteran and serving military member—and their families. “Has this person ever served in the Canadian military?” It’s been half a century since that question was last included in the census; things have changed a little.  Perhaps the biggest change has been an increased interest in how military service affects the families of serving members and veterans. That’s why mention of the 2021 census brought a round of applause at the online Military and Veteran Family Research symposium hosted by the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) in February.  This is a relatively new field of research, and knowledge gaps showed large right from the get-go. When pioneer researcher Deborah Norr...
Looking for a good night’s sleep
Military Health Matters

Looking for a good night’s sleep

Lack of sleep is always in the background of a military career. Military jobs, operations and missions go on around the clock and don’t come to a halt at bedtime.  CAF members are expected to be prepared to miss meals and work irregular or prolonged hours. Duty comes first. But even when duty is done, the stress of service can interfere with shut-eye.  Sleep deficiency can slide into sleep deprivation without many individuals noticing. But around the world, military organizations and veterans affairs departments are beginning to take notice of the effects of lack of sleep.  The Canadian Armed Forces introduced adequate sleep as part of the new fitness strategy introduced in 2019.  A U.S. study on the effects of sleep deprivation during combat operations said the ability to do u...
Medical Advances Behind the Line, Part 1
Military Health Matters, Military History, Military Milestones

Medical Advances Behind the Line, Part 1

The First World War spurred medical innovations that have since saved countless lives. In a war of attrition, where huge armies met in battles that could go on for months, keeping the men fit to fight required as much thought and effort as battle preparations.  While the military war was waged in intermittent battles against the enemy across no man’s land, the medical war was an endless fight against mites and microbes and horrific bodily damage wrought by the mass killing machines of the First World War. Victory on both fronts required medical breakthroughs. Men, mites and microbes “Well! I don’t know which is the worst. The war or the lice.… When we are in the trenches, what little time we get to sleep, the lice won’t let us.” —Samuel Warren Ball, April 1917 (from the Canadi...
Pain centre
Health

Pain centre

In 2014, in physical agony and with tortured emotions, Major Mark Campbell left the Canadian Armed Forces. It had been four years since he was targeted in Afghanistan by Taliban insurgents, who triggered an explosion that claimed both his legs above the knee. From that moment, pain has been a constant companion.  Campbell felt like his feet were on fire, although they were no longer part of his body, and for a long time nothing seemed to help much. He became clinically depressed and “took to the bottle for a few years.” “It has been quite a struggle.” He is not alone. Many CAF veterans live with chronic pain. More than 40 per cent of veterans who left the military since 1998 have chronic pain—two to three times the rate of civilians, reported Life After Service Studies. In a mental ...
Help for those living with concussion
Health, Military Health Matters, Uncategorized

Help for those living with concussion

The long days and nights of pandemic social isolation are tough on military veterans with symptoms of traumatic brain injury, especially those living alone—and particularly those who shrugged off seemingly minor head injuries and haven’t connected their symptoms to concussion. The structure of daily life has been disrupted; the radio and television get a harder workout, resulting in headaches from glare and blare. It’s easier to drift off into a nap, with disastrous results for an already disrupted sleep routine. Friends and colleagues are less available to provide company and help negotiate the new rules that can be confusing for those with memory problems and brain fog. People around them seem to be walking on eggshells, but sufferers shrug that off, too: of course, they’re more ir...
A military response to the pandemic
Health, Military Health Matters

A military response to the pandemic

Truly, the Canadian Armed Forces has to be ready for anything. It has to be ready to respond quickly to domestic and international emergencies and natural disasters, while simultaneously keeping our borders safe—no matter how many personnel might be out sick. Throughout most of history, more troops have died from disease than in battle; Canada broke that sorry tradition in the First World War. It was among the first to embrace vaccinations and to make hygiene and sanitation a command responsibility, resulting in lower rates of sickness and fewer deaths from infectious diseases. The importance of maintaining a healthy force was brought home in March when several global military commanders went into self-quarantine. Russian aircraft began stepping up the number of patrols that skirt o...

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