Veterans and Gambling
They serve our country, they keep us safe. But did you know? Veterans are twice as likely to develop a problem with gambling than the general population.
Why are veterans at risk?
Knowledge is the key to keeping gambling fun for veterans. The more you know, the more you can help:
- There is a high availability of slot machines and chance-based games on overseas bases
- Gambling can be seen as a way to relieve stress for veterans suffering from depression or PTSD
- Disposable income can potentially lead to excess gambling during active duty
Are you concerned about someone?
Problem gambling isn’t always easy to see. But if you’re worried about a someone in your life, here are some things to look for. Veterans may be developing a problem if they:
- Start spending more and more time gambling
- Lie about how much they’re gambling
- Neglect other responsibilities and obligations
- Ask to borrow money
- Use gambling as an escape
- Believe a big win is just around the corner
How can you help? Talk to them.
The best way to check up on someone is by opening up. Here are some tips to help start the conversation:
- Be direct. If you notice that a loved one is going to the casino more often, ask them why
- Try initiating a conversation about the activities they enjoy. If gambling comes up, take the opportunity to talk further
- Many veterans don’t know where to find help. Let them know about the confidential, round-the-clock support that’s available to them, should they ever need it
- Gamblers can be unrealistic about their chances of winning. Help them understand the real odds of the games they play
Resources for gambling responsibly, including some that may have services specific to veterans:
- Consider the Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program
- Call the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling 24-hour Help Line at 800-426-1234 or visit https://masscompulsivegambling.org/
- Learn about services offered through the Bedford VA
- Learn about the Outpatient Treatment Centers offered through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
- Find a self-help group for people going through the same problems.