Two military recruits hospitalized after being pushed in fitness training

The two Canadian Forces recruits were allegedly subjected to physical fitness training that went far beyond what is considered necessary.

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Two Canadian Forces recruits are in hospital amid allegations they were subjected to physical fitness training that went far beyond what is considered necessary.

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Retired and serving military personnel told this newspaper that the recruits were hospitalized during their first week of basic military training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, NB. They allege the physical fitness training verged on sadistic.

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The two are being treated for dehydration and rhabdomyolysis, according to military sources.

Rhabdomyolysis is considered a serious medical condition and is due to a direct or indirect muscle injury. One of the causes of rhabdomyolysis is overexertion.

Canadian Army spokesperson Maj. Sandra Lévesque confirmed that the two recruits are in hospital. Neither the names nor the medical condition of the soldiers is being released.

“The Infantry School has launched a unit-level investigation,” Lévesque confirmed.

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The investigation will allow the army to better understand the events that led to the soldiers being hospitalized.

“At this point, we are limited into the level of information we can share due to the investigation,” Lévesque added.

The U.S. military has raised concerns about rhabdomyolysis. In 2021, the U.S. military had 513 cases of exertional rhabdomyolysis. The highest numbers were among males, less than 20 years old.

In a 2010 study, the U.S. military noted rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle cells that release proteins and electrolytes into the bloodstream. If not treated, it can be fatal and result in kidney failure, heart attack or stroke, the study noted.

In 2018, another U.S. study noted that cases of exertional rhabdomyolysis were on the rise among American military personnel and high school and college athletes. An individual’s fitness level, a sudden increase in exercise intensity, or specific types of exercises can put a person at risk, added the study published in Military Medicine journal.

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In 2000, rhabdomyolysis and severe swelling of leg muscles ended the Canadian Forces career of a first-year Royal Military College cadet who was hospitalized with renal failure.

The cadet’s family alleged that instructors at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School abused their authority and pushed the soldier and other recruits beyond their limits.

But a Canadian Forces board of inquiry blamed the soldier for his injuries, claiming he had pushed himself too much.

A later investigation by the office of the Canadian Forces Ombudsman determined the board of inquiry did not obtain expert medical evidence, and it misunderstood the medical information it did receive.

The ombudsman’s office also recommended the Canadian Forces develop a formal system to track and report on the evaluations of the training regimen that are being conducted.

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The officer cadet was kicked out of the Canadian military as he had life-long medical complications as a result of the incident.

The Canadian Forces is currently dealing with a recruiting crisis as fewer young Canadians are interested in joining the ranks. Military leaders have also acknowledged the ongoing sexual misconduct crisis has hurt recruiting.

One recommendation presented to the senior leadership is to move recruits through the system faster. The BMQ, or basic military training program, for future non-commissioned members should be cut from 10 weeks to eight weeks, it has been recommended.

In addition, the Canadian military is facing its highest attrition rate in 15 years and will need more than a decade to get numbers of soldiers back up to needed levels, according to a briefing prepared for defence chief Gen. Wayne Eyre and other senior leaders.

The briefing was leaked to this newspaper in October.

The lack of housing for military families and failure to increase cost of living benefits has also contributed to serving military personnel leaving the forces.

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