In a bid to “make America great again”, President Donald Trump signed a new bill contained within the National Defence Authorisation Act into law, this week. The decree will see America’s armed forces undergo screening for problem gambling. Trump described the measure as “the most significant investment in [the US] military and war fighters in modern history.” Read on.
The New US Defence Bill
According to Section 733 of the House Armed Services Committee Report (pages 115 to 874); the US Department of Defence (DoD), in the next annual periodic health assessment, is required to integrate medical screen questions specific to gambling disorder. This also includes the Health Related Behaviours Surveys of Active-Duty conducted by the department. The Secretary of Defence will be responsible for submitting a report on the findings of the assessment and surveys in connection with the prevalence of gambling disorder among service members to Congress.
The measure has been a top law-making priority for the past 16 years, this according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Throughout the 90s, gambling disorder screening questions were included in large scale survey of active duty personnel, until they were removed in 2002.
“Previous DoD surveys have found active duty personnel are two to three times more likely to have gambling problems than civilians,” said NCPG executive director Keith Whyte.
“Better detection of gambling problems improves overall health and reduces social costs. Undetected gambling addiction exacerbates substance use disorders, depression and suicidal behaviour,” Whyte added.
Why Screen Military Workers for Problem Gambling?
Each year, the DoD generates $100m from 3 141 slot machines on offshore bases. Since 1951, slot machines have been outlawed on domestic military installations. In estimations, as many as 56 000 active duty members of the armed forces meet criteria for a gambling disorder, according to the NCPG. As such “military personnel need and deserve effective gambling addiction prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research, and responsible gaming and recovery services,” said the NCPG.
“With the provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, we take a vital step to improving the lives of service members and their families,” the NCPG concluded.
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