Saturday, October 31, 2020

Once Upon A Time Didn't The Military Take Good Care Of "Our War-Fighters"?

militaryfamily |  Families living in housing on military installations used to have one simple thing in common: their military service. Now, many families are speaking up about another thing they have in common: substandard living conditions.

Military families deserve better.

Military families have been living in privatized, on-base housing for the last 20 years at over 100 installations nationwide. The Department of Defense (DoD) said this was supposed to ensure better living conditions, but many families now report the opposite.

From lead and asbestos exposure to untreated pest infestations, military families have faced a slew of health risks because of lapses in oversight and a ‘code of silence’ that keeps them from reporting housing issues for fear of career-ending retaliation from military commands. Families are speaking out about the way they’re being treated by the private companies contracted by the individual service branches to oversee military housing communities. And now, thanks in large part to a stinging investigation by Reuters, Washington is paying attention.

Mice & Mold, and in Fear of Retribution

Sharon Limon’s home on Camp Pendleton was home to both mold and mice, neither of which were effectively treated.

“We ended up taking a loan out to move off base,” Sharon explained. She says Lincoln Military Housing—the private company that maintains Camp Pendleton housing—made “too many calls to count” to her husband’s command, which Sharon says caused his career to take “the biggest hit of all.” She says he was forced out in August 2018.

Living in Squalor and Paying the Price

Lisa Mayfield says her family experienced mold in multiple areas of their Fort Belvoir home. Their furniture was damaged because of mice and they were shocked with how they were treated upon moving out. “We were charged a ridiculous amount of money for ‘damaged carpet’ and HVAC cleaning, which I asked them to do while I lived there after the AC unit broke mid-summer and the house smelled awful,” she says.

The number of reports about unreasonable charges and significant health hazards continues to grow, mostly unanswered by the Services and the private companies who manage the properties.