In a growing outcry on Capitol Hill, members of Congress are expressing deep concern over the deteriorating state of military barracks and housing across the United States. Lawmakers are angry over the delayed repairs and failing conditions that servicemembers and their families endure, including mold infestations, nonfunctioning air conditioning and heating units, and more. This issue has reached a boiling point, with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri threatening drastic action to force change.
Senator Hawley recently issued a stern warning, stating that he would withhold confirmation for all Army civilian nominations, including high-ranking positions, until the military addresses the housing crisis at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Over 1,000 family homes are in disrepair at the base, and a promised $41 million in repairs has yet to materialize.
“The Army’s inability to meet its deadlines is unacceptable, and I will wait no longer,” Senator Hawley wrote in a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. “The soldiers and families at Fort Leonard Wood deserve better, and it is your responsibility to deliver for them.”
The GAO highlighted several troubling findings, including inadequate inspections of barracks and housing, a lack of oversight regarding repairs, and difficulties in tracking funding for housing-related projects. Auditors discovered broken windows, malfunctioning fire systems, poor water quality, pest infestations, and rampant mold growth. Additionally, concerns about rising crime within these communities were raised.
Auditors in the GAO report emphasized the negative impact of poor living conditions on work performance, training, and the military’s ability to attract qualified personnel.
The GAO issued 31 recommendations to address these issues, such as updating minimum standards for barracks and conducting more thorough living condition reviews. The Pentagon has agreed to implement most of these recommendations.
In response to the GAO report, a bipartisan group of 17 senators and representatives sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, criticizing the military for “failing to provide the most basic oversight and care of barracks facilities” at ten installations nationwide.
“The GAO report provided an embarrassing list of failures they found when inspecting these buildings,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is clear that there are failures at all levels. Across the enterprise, personnel are shirking their responsibilities to provide service members with safe, habitable living spaces.”
The dire state of military barracks and housing conditions is a growing concern that lawmakers are determined to address. The pressure is mounting on the Department of Defense to prioritize servicemembers’ well-being and ensure safe and comfortable living spaces.