A former soldier tells his story
An Afghanistan veteran has spoken of his devastating struggle with gambling, as new research reveals the grip of addiction on many former staff.
Drew Crainie gambled the money saved for a family trip to Disneyland and stole it to fund his habit during his time in the military.
The former soldier spoke to Forces News as figures revealed that veterans were 10 times more likely to have gambling-related issues compared to those outside of the forces community.
The Forces in Mind Trust and Swansea University study found that veterans’ gambling was more likely to be motivated by avoidance of stress, and that systematic screening for these issues should follow service. .
Thinking back to the 12 lost years of gambling, Mr Crainie said he was originally addicted to arcade machines after joining the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a teenager.
His game then intensified by playing poker and betting on online races.
“I was taking payday loans, I was borrowing money from the people I served with,” he said.
“I once called my wife Laura, my girlfriend at the time, and lied that the military had not paid my wages into my account.
“She transferred £ 1,100 to my account and I think it lasted a few days and before you knew you were going the month without pay.”
The father of two went to great lengths to finance his habit.
Involved in stores during his time in the military, he now admits to stealing to help pay off his debts.
He said he “might go to people’s rooms and take some money and stuff.”
Even after quitting the forces, Drew struggled to cope with the game’s hold on him and his life.
“I remember going to work at night. I was working on the railroad at the time,” he explained.
“I was going out on the track at night and betting on virtual races with the Disneyland money and I thought it was okay.
“It twisted my mind so much that the well-being of my family never crossed my mind.
“It wasn’t until I lost the money that I thought what am I going to do here?”
It has now been over three years since Mr. Crainie placed a bet.
And the support of Gamblers Anonymous made it possible for the veteran and his family to make that trip to Disneyland that they had planned.
“You just need to talk about how you are feeling and tell someone about your issues,” he said.
“Not to think that there is never a way out because there is.”
Mr. Crainie is now using his experience to help others facing the same issues by highlighting the dangers of gambling addiction on his social media feed.
“It’s pretty sad to see people in pain because I know from my own experience what they went through,” he told Forces News.
“There was never a lot of awareness when I served on the game. There just has to be something that needs to change.
“If there is no awareness, then these people who are suffering will not know where to go for help.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues discussed in this article, click here for links to charities that can provide you with expert help, advice, and support.