Slot machines first appeared on bases in the 1930s. (In 1951, following passage of the federal Transportation of Gambling Devices Act, the military removed machines from stateside bases. Two decades later the army and air force banned all machines in response to allegations of corruption and mismanagement; they were reinstituted in 1980.)

The Department of Defense has been studying gambling among active-duty service members at least as far back as 1992, when it added the activity to its "Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel" (SHRBAMP), a questionnaire distributed and tabulated every four to six years.

The 1992, 1998 and 2002 surveys suggested elevated rates of probable pathological gambling among active-duty servicemen.

Dreux Perkins came home to Greenville, Illinois, carrying baggage he didn’t have when he was deployed to Iraq with the army’s 101st Airborne: post-traumatic stress disorder and a gambling addiction.
Dreux Perkins came home to Greenville, Illinois, carrying baggage he didn’t have when he was deployed to Iraq with the army’s 101st Airborne: post-traumatic stress disorder and a gambling addiction.

The DoD took action: Henceforth, gambling questions were omitted from the survey.

In 2001, prompted by Congress, the Pentagon produced a thirteen-page document titled "Report on the Effect of the Ready Availability of Slot Machines on Members of the Armed Forces, Their Dependents, and Others," which averred that slot machines had no negative effect on the morale or the financial stability of military personnel or their families. "Comparisons of the [SHRBAMP] survey data to the general public cannot readily be made," the authors added. (The Pentagon initially contracted with PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct the study but terminated the contract after a few months, opting to use its own researchers.) The DoD has not released a slot-machine report since then.

In 2005 the New York Times published a front-page article about the military's gambling operation that described the downfall of Aaron Walsh, a decorated Apache helicopter pilot who became addicted to gambling while stationed in South Korea, where he lost more than $20,000 playing slots. After leaving the military, Walsh wound up homeless in Las Vegas. In 2006 he committed suicide.

Not long afterward, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee proposed the "Warrant Officer Aaron Walsh Stop DoD-Sponsored Gambling Act," calling for a ban on military slot machines. "We've got research to show that 30,000 of our troops may be pathological gamblers, and we ought to be ashamed that we're adding to that," Davis told Stars and Stripes in 2008. His bill died in committee.

Dreux Michael Perkins and Emily Gehrig buried their stillborn son, Dayne Michael Perkins, on Valentine's Day. Judge Reagan stayed Perkins' sentencing one week so he could be at Gehrig's bedside. On February 22 Perkins drove with his father to Talladega, Alabama, to begin serving his felony sentence. He says that when he gets out of prison, he hopes to become a PTSD counselor, in order to prevent more cases like his. 

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11 comments
James Hodges
James Hodges

They already gambled with their lives... what's a little money...?

David F
David F

From the headline: "...when the chips are down." Really guys? That's the best your cubby reporter could hork up, like an old crone coughing up a lung-clam? Embarrassing.

Ruth Ann
Ruth Ann

A few judgemental people out there.Not everyoone that was in combat.suffers from PTSD.Let's support those who suffer from PTSD. Jim M. is right. Work with PTSD patients at the VA and you will learn to understnad them and love them.

Brad Hicks
Brad Hicks

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleepIs cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bitIs five times better business than paradin' in full kit.Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

(excerpted from Rudyard Kipling, "Tommy," Barracks-Room Ballads, 1892. http://faxmentis.org/html/kipl...

Trailer Trash
Trailer Trash

Hmm... an AIR FORCE combat vet? Sitting in a shelter at on an airfield is not exactly being a 91B door kicker...Being a "Combat Vet".. does not excuse anyone from anything. Every SINGLE person who served in Afghanistan OR Iraq VOLUNTEERED to be there. Relation does not equal causation...A PRISON GUARD? Prison guards are nothing more than people who could not make it onto police forces.

BILL
BILL

Really? I served in COMBAT in VIETNAM for 34 months and do not have a gambling or DRUG problem. I also have been a Correctional Officer and never smuggled anything in .

lonedog
lonedog

Nothing new to this. Audi Murphy gambled away every dime he made.

Jim M
Jim M

Gambling addiction is a disease like heroin or cocaine. It helps reduce depression, you get a high, and the more you play the better win or lose. Usually people bottom out when they've lost everything and some take other measures to keep playing, lying, stealing, borrowing, etc. It is very very serious and not enough is being done to help those. A 12 step program is really not the answer.

Arthur Wiederhold
Arthur Wiederhold

As usual we are kicked to the curb. After using and abusing us, the military throws us out like so much trash. Nothing new here.

James Hodges
James Hodges

Trailer Trash... ummm yep that sounds about right...

 
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