One clear message coming out of the news reports from the Canadian Military and Veterans Health Research Forum held in Kingston, Ont., after Remembrance Day is the need for more research. Alice Aiken director of the new Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research told the media there is a lack of understanding about the unique health challenges of military and veterans.
Retired General Roméo Dallaire was reported as saying such research will save lives. He told the 425 forum delegates about the need for appropriate long-term mental health care for veterans and families, with particular attention needed for post traumatic stress disorder. He said 17 years after his service in Rwanda something as simple as hearing a grandchild cry can trigger a flashback. A CF study released the week of the forum said 13.2 per cent of CF members deployed in support of the Afghanistan mission before 2009 were diagnosed with operational stress injury, including eight per cent with PTSD, in the 54 months after deployment.
But the conference heard there’s a dearth of funding—both private and public—for veterans’ health research in Canada. Bill Richard, a Queen’s University adjunct prof involved with the institute, told media the U.S. spends about $500 million in veterans research. He believes that in order to get up to speed, Canada needs to invest $10 million a year over the next five years.
Media reports didn’t seem to have good news about just where that funding will come from, other than Veterans Affairs Canada, now undergoing budget cuts. The website for the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research lacks a Donate button on its homepage, but does have a handy listing of contacts.