Military leaders apologize for problems in family housing


WASHINGTON (AP) — Top leaders of the U.S. military services apologized to Congress on Thursday for allowing substandard living conditions in military family housing. They acknowledged failing to have fully understood the problem earlier and promised to fix it.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the civilian and uniformed leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps laid blame largely on the private contractors who built the homes and are obliged to keep them in good repair. The officials vowed to renegotiate the long-term, multibillion-dollar contracts to ensure more accountability.

“I want to start by first apologizing personally on behalf of the Department of the Navy to any sailor, Marine, soldier, airman, Coast Guardsman that was affected by the housing malady,” said Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

The issues include lead poisoning hazards, mold and pest infestations in some military housing across the country. The problems have been raised before by government auditors and others but have come to a head in recent weeks amid increased news coverage and congressional testimony last month by military family advocacy organizations.

“What’s happened here is criminal,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. He urged the service leaders to ask the Justice Department to consider opening criminal or civil investigations of conduct by the housing contractors, whose arrangements with the military housing authorities, Blumenthal said, are “a risk-free cash cow.”

Trump Shooter Flew Drone, Livestreamed Area Hours Before Attack as Stunning Details Come to Light: Wray

Army Secretary Mark Esper told the committee his service had failed to properly supervise the housing issues.

“In too many cases, it is clear the private housing companies failed to uphold their end of the bargain, a failure that was enabled by the Army’s insufficient oversight,” Esper said. “We are determined to investigate these problems and to hold our housing contractors and chains of command accountable.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the three military departments are drafting a “tenant’s bill of rights” to make the contractors and military commanders more accountable and to give military families more leverage in dealing with housing problems that affect their health and safety.

Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican chairman of the committee, read portions of a report that the panel’s staff had written after visiting several military bases to get a first-hand look at the problems, which they concluded are worse than initially believed. Commanders at the bases were not uniformly aware of the depth of the problems, the report said.

“Where they thought they had a good understanding of current housing conditions, most came away embarrassed that they were not aware of some of the dire situations,” the report said. “Specific issues included absolutely no quality assurance from the services, which the chain of command admits is a problem.”

Inhofe took aim at the military leaders sitting at the witness table in front of him.

“The chain of command failed to take care of its own and lost their trust,” he said.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City