WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper and pressed him on what the Army is doing to resolve serious hazards in military housing reported at several bases in Virginia.
A recent investigation by Reuters alleged significant problems in base housing such as cockroaches, mice, mold and leaks, and described the difficulty that military families have encountered in getting the private management companies that own and operate the housing to address issues posing health hazards for families living in the homes. As part of its investigation, Reuters identified problems at several facilities across the country, including Fort Belvoir, Quantico, Oceana Naval Air Station, and other military bases in Hampton Roads.
“Our nation’s military families deserve better than this. They deserve safe and healthy housing, free from mold, lead, pests, and other hazards,” said Sen. Warner. “In our meeting today, I told Secretary Esper that I expect the Army to make improving military housing conditions a top priority and hold accountable any companies who may have profited off the mistreatment of military families.”
In November, Warner sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis regarding the “unacceptable conditions” documented in the homes. In the letter, he demanded a briefing from the Defense Department on the current situation, as well as a plan from DoD to ensure the safety of military families residing in private housing moving forward.
In August, Sen. Warner – along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) – also pressed Secretary Esper to address problems with lead poisoning affecting families at several Army bases around the country, including Fort Belvoir.
This isn’t the first time Sen. Warner has intervened on behalf of military families experiencing health hazards in military housing. Back in 2011, dozens of military families stationed in Norfolk described problems with Lincoln Military Housing, one of the contractors identified in Reuters’ recent reporting. As now, the affected families – experiencing issues such as leaks, mold, and infestation – recounted major difficulties in getting the company or the Navy to take the complaints seriously. After Sen. Warner got involved, however, Navy brass and Lincoln executives pledged to improve their responsiveness, and the company took steps to address mold and other hazards.