New studies indicate that about 1 out of 5 returning veterans have some level of gambling problem. Increased gambling opportunities back at home act like a "trigger" making it more difficult to treat other major returning veteran problems such as substance abuse, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Please view this video to find out what happened to one New England family when a husband, father and Army helicopter pilot developed a gambling addiction while on-duty in the Military - then came home.
A soldier tries his luck at a slot machine at an Army base in Germany. The U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr commander says that use in slot machines has increased at his bases since 172nd Infantry Brigade soldiers returned from Iraq late last year.
VILSECK, Germany - An increase in gambling at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr suggests that some 172nd Infantry Brigade soldiers and families members could develop gambling addictions related to stressful deployments, according to a top Army official in the area.
...some soldiers develop gambling addiction after returning from a stressful deployment, and some wives of deployed soldiers use gambling as a way to cope while their husband is away.
"It is a stress release, and then it becomes addictive," he said in an interview with Stars and Stripes. "Then credit cards go dry. Soldiers come back from downrange and there is no money."...
CAMP CASEY, South Korea - When the money ran out for Pfc. Daniel Yoon, he walked into Community Bank and became fellow soldier Pfc. Jin Y. Kim.
He walked out with a $1,000 personal loan to feed his gambling habit.
On Thursday, Yoon pleaded guilty to nine charges related to stealing money and was sentenced to 15 months in confinement, reduction in rank to E-1 and a bad-conduct discharge.
Yoon has spent the past 142 days in confinement because he is considered a flight risk. Yoon also alluded to owing money to Korean underworld figures, and the military is worried about his safety, a command official said following the trial.
Kim told the court that after the theft, he couldn't afford a haircut and couldn't get more than a $20 loan because Yoon ruined his financial record.
WASHINGTON - In just a few months, "Carol" dumped nearly $21,000 into the slot machines at her Army base in Germany.
She's not really sure why.
"The bowling alley was next door to where I worked; I started going in to eat lunch and started dropping a few coins in the machines," said the senior noncommissioned officer, who asked that her full name not appear in print. "I won a few times; next thing you know, I was going to the bowling alley every day for lunch, and then after work."
Carol believes she has a gambling problem, but is reluctant to seek counseling on base because she fears that her superiors may distrust or demote her if they learn about her mistakes.
"I received a lump bonus payment of over $30,000," she said. "My plan was to pay off debts and be able to retire debt-free except for the mortgage payment. In less than four months, I had gone through the money with nothing to show for it."
WASHINGTON - New legislation would ban slot machines and video gaming devices from all U.S. military installations, effectively shutting down overseas military gambling.
Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., calls the measure a way to protect troops from a dangerous and addictive pastime. State lottery ticket sales and charitable events would be exempt from the ban, but the rows of slot machines at many overseas bases would be removed.
"It's offensive. The military is taking $150 million from soldiers' wallets ... and then denying them treatment for an illness they helped create," he said. "Our young officers are being invited to gamble on bases, and it brings about financial and psychological problems."
WASHINGTON - Compounding the problem with gambling addiction is a surge in casinos across the country in proximity to military bases, as well as easily accessible gambling over the Internet.
"It's an excellent idea to pull [the slot machines] off the overseas bases," said Lenyatta Tinnelle, a former senior airman who struggled with gambling addiction. "Overseas places have nothing to do... it's so easy to get hooked."
Tinnelle first started gambling when she was stationed at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea in the mid-1990s, but her addiction intensified when in 2000 she was deployed to Keflavík, Iceland, where the slot machines available on the former naval base offered a respite from dark, cold evenings and boredom.
The senior airman, who had been diligent about having savings and investing money in bonds over the years, ended up gambling all her $40,000 in savings and wrote about $50,000 in bad checks on the base, said her mother, Valerie Tinnelle, in a phone interview from San Antonio.
She gambled together with her superiors, but none of them ever talked to her about an addiction that was becoming obvious, said Tinnelle. Instead, she was court-martialed after writing the bad checks and put on suicide watch as she was threatened to be thrown in military jail even though she had asked for medical help for her addiction. Lenyatta eventually avoided jail, but was demoted and eventually pushed out of the Air Force.