US military warned about problem gamblers in the ranks

Only a tiny fraction of US military servicemembers have been diagnosed with gambling disorders, although government watchdogs suggest that the military isn’t really looking that hard for symptoms.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Monday that examined Department of Defense (DOD) data on gambling disorder prevalence among DOD and Coast Guard (CG) servicemembers.

The data identified 514 active-duty servicemembers and 72 more in the reserves that were either diagnosed with gambling disorders or were treated for problem gambling in the Military Health System in fiscal years 2011 through 2015. The GAO says the figures represent less than 0.03% of average servicemembers in each year.

However, the GAO noted that neither the DOD nor the CG systematically screen for gambling disorder the way they do for substance abuse, which the military says is because they focus on “mental-health disorders that are high risk to overall readiness.”