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Canadian veterans' health under the microscope

09/10/2011 08:32 EDT | Updated 11/10/2011 05:12 EST

A new research group at Queen's University will examine Canadian soldiers who were physically or mentally injured in the field of battle.

The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research opened this week at the Kingston, Ont. school expecting to hear a wide variety of stories from veterans across Canada.

Ron Ally, who spoke at the centre's opening, is one of the veterans the centre is looking for.

The 43-year-old spent more than 20 years in the Canadian Forces and said he lived and breathed the military during his seven deployments.

But then he said everything changed when he started to suffer from mental health issues.

"I just felt my whole … my mind, my body, I was a different person. At the time I thought I was having a heart attack," Ally told the crowd of about 50 veterans on hand.

"When I returned home, for many months, I'd run out of my bed in the middle of the night and wake up by the front door of my house."

Ally also criticized the military for turning its back on him after he started having those problems.

"Basically, we don't want broken people in the regiment," a superior once told Ally.

Injuries also hampered Sgt. Wayne Eastebrook when he returned from a recent tour in Afghanistan.

Though he, in contrast to Ally, praised the military's medical care as the best it has ever been.

The new centre's goal, according to Dr. Alice Aiken, is to study Ally and others like him and in time, the centre will be able to help soldiers returning injured from active duty.

"They're on an entirely new battlefield and it's critical that we equip them with the right tools to deal with that battlefield," said Aiken.

The research group said it would share its work with researchers at 18 other Canadian universities.

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