Military Appreciation Month and the Battle Against Gambling Harm

May is not just a month of blooming flowers and warmer weather. It’s also a time to honor the brave men and women who serve in the military. May is Military Appreciation Month, which provides an opportunity for us to express gratitude for their sacrifices. However, it’s essential to address a lesser-known issue that affects some members of the military community: gambling harm.

Military Challenges

Military life comes with its own set of challenges. This includes deployments and relocations, the stress of combat, and the demands of service. These challenges can take a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of service members. They can lead some to seek solace in activities like gambling. Gambling activities can include visiting casinos, playing online poker, or participating in sports betting. Whatever the chosen activity, gambling can become a dangerous coping mechanism for dealing with stress, boredom, or trauma.

Coping With Stress

What may start as a harmless form of entertainment can quickly spiral out of control. This spiral can lead to financial difficulties, strained relationships, and even legal troubles. For members of the military, who already face unique stressors and responsibilities, gambling harm can exacerbate existing challenges and jeopardize their ability to fulfill their duties effectively. Using gambling as a coping mechanism can turn from enjoyment into a devastating disorder.

Additionally, the culture within the military often values risk-taking and adrenaline-inducing activities (Breivik et al., 2019). This can normalize behaviors like gambling and make it harder for individuals to recognize when their gambling behaviors become problematic.

Addressing Gambling Harm 

Recognizing the intersection of military service and gambling harm is the first step toward addressing the issue effectively. Military leaders, healthcare providers, and support organizations must work together to raise awareness about gambling harm and provide resources for prevention, intervention, and treatment (Metcalf et al, 2022).

  • One crucial aspect of addressing gambling harm within the military community is reducing the stigma associated with seeking help. Many service members may be reluctant to acknowledge gambling harms due to concerns about how it may affect their careers or reputations. By fostering a culture of support and understanding, we can encourage individuals to seek assistance without fear of judgment or repercussions.
  • A second way to address the issue is by providing education and training on informed decision making. This includes understanding the odds, setting limits on time and money spent gambling, and seeking help when needed. These practices can empower service members to make informed decisions and recognize the warning signs of problematic behavior.

Supporting Our Service Members:

As we honor the sacrifices of our military personnel during Military Appreciation Month, let us also commit to supporting their well-being in all aspects of their lives. By addressing the issue of gambling harm within the military community, we can ensure that those who serve receive the support and resources they need to thrive, both during and after their time in uniform.

If you find yourself struggling with gambling harm, or if you suspect someone you know is facing such challenges, don’t hesitate to seek help. For 24/7 support, call the NYS OASAS HOPEline at 1-877-846-7369 or text 467369. Or choose your county using our interactive map on our HOME PAGE to see the contact information for the Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) in your region.


Military Appreciation Month serves as a reminder of the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our service members. However, it’s also an opportunity to shine a light on issues that affect the military community, including gambling harm. By raising awareness, providing support, and promoting informed decision making, we can honor the service of our military personnel while helping them overcome the challenges they face. Let us stand together in support of those who serve and ensure that they receive the care and assistance they deserve.