Help available for veterans who are vulnerable to problem gambling

Posted 11 November 2022 at 9:02 am


Veterans Day is recognized nationwide to honor the millions of veterans who have served. Between relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, nearly everyone knows at least one person who has served in the military.

Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the unique challenges faced by service members. It is also an opportunity to create better systems of support for those who have served. Recent research by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and Bowling Green State University has indicated that problem gambling is 3.5 times higher among active military personnel compared to the general population.

Life for military members is different than civilian life. Without close family and friends, or regular forms of entertainment, military members can turn to gambling to pass time, escape stress and cope with emotions. Opportunities to gamble are vast, especially on base and overseas. On-base slot machines, friendly sports wagers, and simple card games can serve as recreation, but can quickly spiral out of control.

Most adults can gamble safely, without developing a problem. But when gambling or betting activities start to interfere with morale, individual readiness, relationships, create financial troubles, contribute to depression and anxiety, or lead to feelings of hopelessness, it is time to seek assistance.

Research shows that active-duty service members seek help for problem gambling at significantly lower rates than the civilian population, often out of fear of facing negative consequences on their military career. There is help available.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with problem gambling, reach out to the Western NY Problem Gambling Resource Center for confidential support, or call 716-833-4274.

Jeffrey Wierzbicki

Team leader for Western Problem Gambling Resource Center