This year CIMVHR (Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research) hosted its 12th annual Forum from October 17-19 in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia, and my team and I were so pleased to attend! Throughout the years, I have had the good fortune to attend almost every CIMVHR Forum, and it is truly the annual event I most cherish.
Each year, Forum brings together key Canadian researchers, clinicians and thought leaders, as well as our international partners from a wide variety of sectors, to exchange ideas and present new research on the pressing issues impacting the health of Canada’s Military Personnel, Veterans, and other first responders such as Public Safety Personnel, as well as the day-to-day challenges facing their families.
CIPHER was a proud bronze level sponsor of Forum this year. Our team had a booth, which allowed us to showcase the important work being done by CIPHER and the 9 projects we support. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to share this important work with all those in attendance and we are so thankful to everyone who stopped by our booth. The critical connections we made and the meaningful conversations we took part in, will help further our mission to bring mental health and well-being supports to all those frontline workers who have suffered the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and who have been there to serve and protect the rest of us over the past 2 years!
We also enjoyed connecting with the other groups and organizations hosting booths. As for the sessions, workshops, roundtables, and plenaries that took place at Forum this year– there were many that featured a COVID-19 focus, which was especially interesting for us and our work.
Now, to touch on a few of my personal highlights. I was honoured to co-host a workshop titled “The Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Community of Practice: A Partnership to Promote Understanding, and Decrease the Occurrence and Effects of MST” with my amazing colleagues, Drs. Margaret McKinnon, Linna Tam-Seto, and Lori Buchart. After we presented on the work being done by the MST Community of Practice, attendees broke into small groups where we had them discuss ideas for addressing MST and how to support those who are impacted. The conversations that took place will be used to guide the Community of Practice’s future directions, and our critical conversations in the McMaster University-sponsored B.E.S.T. Workshops that we hold with Canadian Armed Forces Leaders. I also had the opportunity to moderate one of the concurrent sessions, which featured several researchers presenting on the impact of COVID-19 on military and public safety personnel. Each presentation was pertinent and thought-provoking, which was reflected in the rich discussion that took place, and continued on past the end of the session time! And finally, I attended a COVID-focused workshop where the moderator began by describing COVID-19 as “the crisis that has stolen the breath of many Canadians”. This made me reflect that the overarching goal of CIPHER is to figuratively “breathe life back into our communities and into the health and well-being of our frontline workers”.
The CIPHER team is extremely grateful to have been part of Forum 2022. What we learned and the conversations we had while at Forum are already being used to influence the work we do to support the mental health of Canada’s Public Safety Personnel, Healthcare Providers, Military Members, Veterans, and their families.
To CIMVHR and its team of amazing organizers who made Forum such a great success this year, thank you so much!