The development director for the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems Jeff Wasserman tackled the issue of problem gambling among the members of the military at a conference on gambling addiction, which took place yesterday at the Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center. Mr Wasserman also assumed the role of a Program Chair at the conference which was held at a venue located in a close proximity to the Dover Downs Casino only several miles away from the military base of Air Force in Delaware’s state capital.
The conference is the first of its kind in the country and lasted an entire day. Discussions were divided into six different panels but all of them were related to problem gambling among military veterans. The day-long event attracted the interest of over a hundred attendees. One of the key speakers at the conference was Dr. Heather Chapman who shed light on gambling disorders among military members, the suitable ways of treatment, and the impact of problem gambling.
Mr. Wasserman’s main point of discussion was the increasing number of veterans and military servicemen who struggle with compulsive gambling. It is estimated that as much as 10% of the US military members develop gambling problems, but the issue is not given a sufficient amount of publicity. Because of this, Mr. Wasserman decided to address this disconcerting trend and put in the spotlight at the conference.
Mr. Wasserman explained that casino operators also recognise gambling addiction as an issue since it reflects poorly on the gaming industry. He drew a parallel between gambling and alcohol consumption explaining that both should be done for recreation. Similarly to drinking, a certain percentage of the population finds it difficult to gamble in moderation.
The focus here should be on the military population which appears to be at a high risk of developing a gambling problem. The Delaware Council on Gambling Problems’ mission is to provide information on addiction prevention as well as information on how one can seek help and receive treatment, with a special stress on tailoring a program towards the needs of the veteran community.
Veterans Are at Higher Risk of Developing a Problem
Veterans who had struggled with gambling addiction in the past shared their challenges and stories of success. One of the speakers was former military serviceman Dave Yeager who has dedicated eleven years of his life in service to the US Army. Mr. Yeager is also an author of a book dedicated to his struggles with gambling addiction as a military man and his road to recovery.
The former military officer is confident that the essence of the military lifestyle on its own is a prerequisite for the development of addiction. According to him, one of the reasons why veterans are at a higher risk of developing such a problem has to with the fact military regimen is very structured and servicemen struggle to find an outlet once they return to normal life. For some veterans, gambling appears to be that outlet.
Also, the results of recent statistics were rather alarming as they reveal around 10% of US veterans struggle with gambling addition at some level. As many as 56,000 military servicemen who are still on active duty suffer from problem gambling. Mr. Wasserman (pictured above next to Mr. Yeager) commented these results are alarming not only because addiction impacts servicemen’s lives negatively but also because the problem poses as a threat to national security.
Problem gamblers, he explained, are more vulnerable because they are obsessed with finding the funds necessary to fuel their addiction. Unfortunately, the issue does not get enough recognition because military men are often associated with traits like discipline, courage and strength, which is why their susceptibility towards developing a problem goes unnoticed.
In addition to encouraging and assisting veterans in finding help, the program of the Delaware Council of Problem Gamblers has another important focus – that of helping friends and family members of the addicted to recognize the symptoms of compulsive gambling. Supporting military men who struggle with gambling addiction on their way to recovery is also of great importance.
March appears to be a suitable time for hosting this conference as it is the month, dedicated to gambling addiction awareness in the United States. The year 2018 marks the 14th annual Problem Gambling Awareness Month, hosted by the National Council on Problem Gambling. This year, the focus falls on open dialogue and more serious discussions in regard to compulsive gambling, which is estimated to cost the country as much as $6.7 billion per year.