KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A proposed policy change would prevent U.S. soldiers in the Kaiserslautern garrison from gambling in uniform, even on American bases.
Lt. Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander of the garrison, “has asked his Army Community Service staff to begin drafting” such a policy “to be staffed for approval,” garrison spokesman Mark Heeter said in an email.
Denise Fesel, manager of the Kaiserslautern ACS financial readiness program, said the policy her office is drafting is partly about maintaining “the integrity of the uniform,” but also aims to address problem gambling in the Kaiserslautern community, where there are numerous off-base casinos and on-base slot machines at military clubs.
While working with soldiers who need help straightening out their finances, Fesel said she identifies about four a year whose fiscal woes resulted from a gambling problem.
“Most people, when they’re gambling, what they’re going to do is they gamble at lunch, they gamble before they go home, they gamble on their way to an appointment — all of this in uniform,” Fesel said. “So if we can change a habit, we might be able to help them identify themselves” as problem gamblers.
The issue of gambling in uniform came up at an Army Family Advocacy Program conference last year, according to Heeter, and Zetterstrom asked for the policy in response.
Fesel said she is working with the legal office to determine the policy’s scope. Her office advocates a wholesale ban on gambling in uniform, but the new policy may result in a lesser restriction, such as restricting gambling during duty hours.
“You know, we’re not allowed to go out and drink in uniform,” Fesel said. “So why should you be allowed to gamble?”