Canada Foundation for Innovation

Canada Foundation for Innovation

November 05, 2013 13:01 ET

War's Legacy: Researchers Discuss How We Mark Canada's Military History and the Effect of Conflict on the Mental Health of Soldiers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 5, 2013) - A bloom of red appears on the lapels of many Canadians leading up to Remembrance Day; the poppy is a symbol of our collective link to the country's military history and a somber mark of support Canadian soldiers past and present. Two CFI-funded researchers offer insight on the symbols and traditions we use to commemorate Canadian military service, and the mental health issues facing men and women after they have served on the front lines.

Holger Herwig uses CFI funds to equip students with the space and tools they need to research the history of Canadians at war and how those stories have permeated through our culture. As a professor at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary, Herwig has written dozens of books and journal articles about Canada's role in the First and Second World Wars. Not only can Herwig discuss the complexities of these wars but also how Canadian soldiers who participated in key battles continue to be remembered, whether in traditional ceremonies like Remembrance Day or in contemporary media like books and television, movies and even video games. Herwig can also share his concerns about what he believes is a steady decline in educating young students about Canada's military history.

Jitender Sareen is searching for what he calls the "holy grail" among mental health researchers: a diagnostic test that would screen for a predisposition to cognitive illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers before they are deployed. With the support of the CFI, Sareen - a professor of psychiatry, psychology and community health at the University of Manitoba - built a multidisciplinary lab where he and his students continue to gather evidence about factors that could trigger a mental health crisis in troops who have or are serving in Afghanistan. His research suggests a lack of social support, gender, childhood trauma and the experience of being dispatched from active duty increase the risk of mental illness in soldiers. Sareen is available to discuss mental illness among military personnel, current treatment options and his next project - developing genetic tests that could determine whether someone is vulnerable to mental health issues before they go to war. A video of Sareen talking about mental health issues such as suicide in different communities, including the Canadian military, can be found here.

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About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada's universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world's top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit

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