Concerns are emerging about the gambling crisis embedded in the US military system

Concerns are mounting about a growing gambling crisis within the US military, with few resources available to help those at risk.

A 2021 study found that U.S. military personnel were twice as likely to become “problem gamblers” than the general public, among other risks such as suicidal ideation. While that’s a grim statistic, it’s perhaps less surprising next to the fact that the US military itself operates more than 3,000 slot machines on bases in twelve countries, as reported in The Guardian, despite slot machines being banned on US bases.

According to the Pentagon, this number of slot machines has been reduced from 8,000 slot machines in 94 countries in 1999. However, a culture of gambling is still firmly entrenched in military culture, ranging from the machines to the gambling on bases. Service members age 18 and older can participate.

“I’m walking around and I find a casino-style slot machine room,” 57-year-old former sergeant Dave Yeager told The Guardian. “As soon as I sat down, the first thing I noticed was that my shoulders started to relax. Then I won, and it was like a dopamine hit.

“In that moment, all the fear, anger and stress I felt just disappeared.”

Gambling as a health disorder

Problem gambling has been recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders since 1980, but the resources to help those affected are still lacking, both in the US military and in several other official organizations.

Since 2019, the Department of Defense has mandated annual screenings for gambling disorders as part of the mandatory general health assessment of service members. The hope is that identifying problems earlier among first responders will result in more effective treatment.

“Early detection and treatment of gambling disorders and other health-related behavioral problems are critical to maintaining the overall well-being and operational effectiveness of our armed forces,” a Defense Department spokesperson said in one of the first public statements on the problem of gambling among soldiers. serve people.

If you are having trouble gambling or are concerned about a loved one, the National Problem Gambling Council has a 24/7 helpline that you can call for advice and resources.

Featured image: Pexels

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