Military Health Matters

Stories and features pertaining to Veterans Health Issues.

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...
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...
Progress in the fight against malaria
COVID-19, Military Health Matters

Progress in the fight against malaria

In June, military researchers in the United States announced that a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready for testing on humans before the end of the year. That same month, The Lancet, the prestigious medical journal, announced a new approach to fight malaria. The mosquito-borne disease infected an estimated 216 million people globally in 2018, claiming 405,000 lives. (In comparison, by July 21, 2020, there were more than 14.5 million COVID-19 cases, and more than 600,000 deaths.) Deaths from malaria were halved in the past decade—a dramatic reduction in the annual death rate of a scourge that has plagued humankind since the dawn of history—but it has still killed millions, mostly in Africa and mostly children, since 2000. One scientist has estimated malaria could account for the deaths o...
MILITARY HEALTH MATTERS: Checking on your buddies
Military Health Matters

MILITARY HEALTH MATTERS: Checking on your buddies

When this column was written, the world was still in lockdown, practising social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine. Who knows when social distancing can end, or whether we’ll be in and out of lockdown a number of times as the virus peaks and wanes and peaks again. These measures are tough enough on those who are physically and mentally hale and healthy, but they can be even harder on vulnerable veterans and add to the pressures on their families and caregivers. Isolation leads to loneliness, which can lead to major depression, which is implicated in the development of a host of health effects including increased risks of heart attack, insomnia, increased pain sensitivity, weakened immune system and suicidal thoughts and behaviour. “No one stands on a roof and says, ‘I’m lonely...

Sign up today for a FREE download of Canada’s War Stories

Free e-book

An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.