Kith and kin

True Patriot Love partners with University of Alberta to advance rehabilitation research for soldiers and their families

Laurie Wang - 08 January 2014

True Patriot Love partners with University of Alberta to advance rehabilitation research for soldiers and their families

Making a difference in the lives of military families - that's what True Patriot Love is about, and they continue to achieve this goal by supporting military rehabilitation research at the University of Alberta.

"At the end of the day, when I look at what UAlberta is doing, there is a huge impact not only on the individual soldier but also on the entire family," said Michael Burns, Vice-Chair of True Patriot Love.

True Patriot Love gave $200,000 to support the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's Canadian Military and Veterans' Rehabilitation Research Program, led by Ibi Cernak, PhD. Cernak recently traveled with the Canadian Forces to Afghanistan, working alongside troops for a month, studying their resilience before, during and after deployment. She is the first research chair in Canada dedicated specifically to the rehabilitation of injured soldiers and veterans. Her research is ultimately aimed at understanding and finding solutions to the health issues and rehabilitation needs of our soldiers, veterans and their families.

True Patriot Love focuses our funding and advocacy in three streams: mental health and well-being, physical health and rehabilitation, and family health and support. "It's not just a soldier who enlists in the Armed Forces, it's the entire family that enlists. There are men and women who've come back from Afghanistan who are now dealing with the physical limitations of lost limbs and other issues, saying to themselves, 'How do I manage my new normal,'" said Burns. "Their new normal directly impacts their relationship with their husband or wife, and people forget that even their kids are affected."

The University of Alberta presented True Patriot Love with a plaque to recognize their support at the Military and Veteran Health Research Forum in November, hosted in Edmonton by the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research and UAlberta.

"We'd like to thank True Patriot Love for their gift and support. Their vision for soldiers, veterans and their families is just what our military research is about - advancing care, making new discoveries that will change and improve clinical practices across the country," said Bob Haennel, acting dean, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

"The fact is, whatever comes out of the research, there are implications for both the soldier and the general public. There are thousands of innovations and discoveries that originate from military research that will benefit all kinds of people struggling with physical and mental health issues - that's the beauty of supporting some of our country's brightest researchers who are making a difference in the lives of those who sacrifice for the vast majority of us," said Burns.

Photo from L to R: Ibolja Cernak, Michael Burns, Elizabeth Taylor, U of A military research liaison