Congress probes ‘disgusting’ living conditions in military housing

Matt Saintsing
February 13, 2019 - 6:32 pm

Mold, paint riddled with lead peeling off from walls, and rat infestations

That’s just some of what military families have to endure while living on military installations nationwide according to a survey released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Military Family Advisory Network that shows just how bleak living on base can be. 

In just seven days, more than 16,000 people responded, over half of which say have a “negative” view of their housing. 

On the same day the survey results were released, Congress heard testimony from military spouses on specific concerning issues, ranging from bureaucratic nightmares to health scares. 

“We will likely suffer from the effects of this for the rest of our lives,” said Janna Driver, an Air Force Spouse whose children were struck with sudden sickness due to mold on Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. 

 She said her family has experienced headaches, nosebleeds, and chronic sore throats, and was “concerned” they may have cancer. 

Driver, along with a panel of other military spouses, told Senators Wednesday about the barriers they’ve encountered and the possible military retribution their spouses face. 

“I wouldn’t recommend my own children to join the service, and my husband has been a Marine for 12 years,” added Crystal Cornwall, a Marine Corps spouse who, through tears, went into vivid detail about the termites, mice, and other pests found at their on-base housing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), an Air Force veteran, said the military had turned their backs on these military families and others like them. 

“They left you hanging, they put you in harm’s way,” said McSally. She placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the companies who provide on-base housing, and encouraged a military chain of command to “poke their finger…in the chest of these companies to say ‘fix it now, or you’re done.’” 

When it came turn for the company executives to testify to the Senate panel, they agreed that the situation is “unacceptable.”  

During the hearing, Army Secretary Mark Esper and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley released a joint statement voicing how “deeply troubled” they are by “recent reports highlighting the deficient conditions in some of our family housing.” 

“Our most sacred obligation as Army leaders is to take care of our people—our soldiers and our family members,” the statement reads. 

“We have directed an Inspector General investigation and have taken other actions. We will hold our chain of command and private contractors accountable to ensure they are meeting their obligations to provide safe, high-quality family housing.” 

“We should have the best possible housing for our military families,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who is also a Col. in the Marine Corps Reserves.

“There’s a lot of talk about the one percent in America, well guess what? We’re looking at a lot of the one percent in America—the less than one percent who raised their right hand to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, to die for this country, and their families,” he said. 

“They should have the best housing.”