The number of DOD and Coast Guard active-duty servicemembers and Reserve Component servicemembers "who were diagnosed with gambling disorder or seen for problem gambling in fiscal years 2011 through 2015," according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) -- Military Personnel: DOD and the Coast Guard Need to Screen for Gambling Disorder Addiction and Update Guidance.
DOD and Coast Guard officials told the GAO that the services "do not systematically screen for gambling disorder."
DOD officials stated they do not screen for gambling disorder because they focus on mental-health disorders that are high risk to overall readiness, high volume, and have validated measures for assessment. While gambling disorder is not a frequently diagnosed condition, the preoccupation with gambling, financial hardship, and increased risk of suicide can pose a risk to individual readiness. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has indicated that screening is important because few seek treatment directly for gambling disorder. Without proactively asking gambling disorder questions as part of screening to help detect gambling disorder, DOD and the CG risk not identifying affected servicemembers and providing treatment or counseling.
The GAO suggested that "DOD incorporate gambling disorder questions in a systematic screening process and DOD and the CG update guidance to include gambling disorder."