It was alleged that recruits to the Canadian Forces were subjected to physical fitness training far in excess of what was deemed necessary.
Two Canadian Forces recruits are in hospital amid allegations they were subjected to physical fitness training that far exceeded what was deemed necessary.
Retired and serving military personnel told this newspaper that the recruits were hospitalized during the first week of basic military training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, note: they claim the fitness training verged on sadism.
Military sources said that the two were being treated for dehydration and rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdomyolysis is a serious medical condition that results from direct or indirect muscle injury. One of the causes of rhabdomyolysis is excessive stress.
Canadian Army spokeswoman Major Sandra Levesque confirmed that the two recruits are in hospital. The names of the soldiers and their medical condition were not disclosed.
“The infantry school has launched a unit-level investigation,” Levesque confirmed.
The investigation will allow the military to better understand the events that led to the soldiers’ hospitalization.
“At this point, we are limited in the level of information we can share because of the investigation,” Levesque added.
The US military has raised concerns about rhabdomyolysis. In 2021, the US Army had 513 cases of exogenous rhabdomyolysis. The highest numbers were among males under the age of 20.
In a 2010 study, the US Army noted that rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle cells that release proteins and electrolytes into the bloodstream. The study indicated that if it is not treated, it could be fatal and lead to kidney failure, heart attack or stroke.
In 2018, another US study indicated that cases of exertional rhabdomyolysis are on the rise among US military and high school and college athletes. The study, published in the Journal of Military Medicine, added that an individual’s level of physical fitness, a sudden increase in exercise intensity, or certain types of exercise can put a person at risk.
In 2000, rhabdomyolysis and severe swelling of the calf muscles ended the Canadian Forces career of a first-year Royal Military College cadet who was hospitalized with kidney failure.
The cadet’s family alleged that the instructors at the Canadian Forces Command and Recruit School abused their authority and pushed the soldier and other recruits over their limits.
But a Canadian Forces board of inquiry blamed the soldier for his injuries, alleging that he had pushed himself too far.
A subsequent investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for the Canadian Forces found that the Board of Inquiry had not obtained expert medical evidence, and had misunderstood the medical information it had received.
The Office of the Ombudsman also recommended that the Canadian Forces develop a formal system for tracking and reporting on training system evaluations being conducted.
The officer cadet was fired from the Canadian Army because he had lifelong medical complications as a result of the accident.
The Canadian Forces are currently dealing with a recruitment crisis as fewer young Canadians are interested in joining the ranks. Military leaders have also acknowledged that the ongoing sexual misconduct crisis has hurt recruiting.
One of the recommendations to senior leadership is to move recruits through the system faster. The BMQ, or Basic Military Training Program, for future class members should be cut from 10 weeks to eight weeks, as I recommend.
In addition, Canada’s military is facing its highest rate of attrition in 15 years and will need more than a decade to restore troop numbers to required levels, according to a briefing prepared for Secretary of Defense General Wayne Eyre and other senior leaders.
The briefing was leaked to this newspaper in October.
The lack of housing for military families and the failure to increase living allowances also contributed to the service of military personnel leaving the forces.
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