Military Appreciation Month
In May we celebrate Military Appreciation Month. Those in and out of the military are celebrated during May. We celebrate Memorial Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Armed Forces Day. It is a month set aside to remind Americans of the sacrifices that our military has gone through for our country. It is also important to make sure we are serving our veterans and military with the services they need. In particular, support for problem gambling.
The Military and Gambling
Military and veterans risk their lives for us, but did you know that they are at a higher risk of developing a gambling problem? Research shows that they have higher problem gambling scores than the civilian population. They are two times more likely to have a gambling problem compared to their civilian counterparts.
There are a number of reasons that active duty military and veterans may be at a higher risk of developing a gambling problem. Gambling is normalized in the military culture. For example, many military bases have gambling machines on them. In addition, there is lack of screening for problem gambling and the stigma and shame attached to the diagnosis is high. Just like the civilian population, they may gamble from boredom, loneliness or grief. This can be heightened when deployed or re-integrating into society as a civilian.
Among the military population, there is a co-occurrence with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse. These can be either a cause or effect of problem gambling behavior. Screening is so important among our current and former military population. Luckily, there are several screens that you can take yourself if you think you may have a gambling problem. Read about the problem gambling screening options and, if you think you may be struggling with your gambling, take an e-screener to see where you score and if you need resources.
If you are a military member or veteran listen to The Hidden Addiction Podcast: Gambling In the Military to learn more about the impacts of gambling and where you can find resources.
Loved ones affected
Often times our military and veterans may not recognize or be ready to admit they are struggling with their gambling. However, their support system may recognize a problem. If you are worried about someone in your life who may be struggling with gambling, look out for the signs. One of biggest predictors of gambling problems can be housing or financial issues in the veterans population. In particular, when a veteran has a source of income like service-connected disability, pension, and/or retirement but they are still struggling, it can indicate a problem.
If you are looking to understand what problem gambling is, or how it can impact individuals and families, check out our family member resources.
Reaching out for help
Veterans and military members may not know that services are available for problem gambling. For instance, there can be a stigma and shame attached to reaching out for services. The Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRC) are here to help. At the PGRC’s, we are committed to working with veterans to make sure that they get the support they need.
Our veteran outreach coordinator connects with the veteran population to ensure they are supported from a culturally competent standpoint. If you think that you may be struggling with a gambling problem or have questions, and you are a veteran, reach out to Jonathan Crandall, USMC our Veteran Outreach Coordinator at 315-748-1163 or [email protected].