Military families are coming together to speak out about the horrific living conditions they are forced to endure at some privatized base housing complexes. These families, who have already sacrificed so much, simply want a safe place to raise their children. Those that came forward on Wednesday to testify regarding these conditions, described the properties as “slum-like.” Many of the homes are infested with rats and other types of vermin. The ceilings are molded and falling apart and poor wiring poses a safety concern for all of the home’s inhabitants. The conditions are so bad that many parents are worried about their children experiencing birth defects and other health problems as a result of their exposure, according to Fox News.
Crystal Cornwall is the wife of a Marine and a member of the Safe Military Housing Initiative. In front of Senate leaders, she took the stand and did not hold back when describing what she has learned of from fellow military families living in these bases. With emotion in her voice, she painted a picture of their daily reality.
“I have felt the helplessness of a fellow Marine Corps spouse as she held her new baby and sobbed while we stood under a collapsing moldy ceiling in her home at Camp Lejeune. I listened in horror as families at Camp Pendleton told of mice eating through pacifiers and their baby’s cribs and electrical outlets catching fire due to wiring issues.”
Janna Driver, another military spouse, detailed the many health effects her family has experienced as a result of living in these toxic conditions. She complained of “constant sore throats, nose bleeds, brain fog, blurred vision numbness, fatigue, debilitating headaches.” In fact, she said that she watched her children suffer from headaches that were so painful there had been times she’d worried they had cancer.
Thousands of military families have complained about the housing on military bases for years. However, little has been done to improve upon them thus far. In 1996 conditions were so unsafe that 99 percent of base housing was privatized by the military. Although many believed this would be a positive change that would benefit the government as well, independent contractors took over. Many of these contractors run their properties like slums with little care about those inhabiting them.
Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley issued a recent statement expressing their sympathy for these families. They claimed to be taking action to ensure suitable and safe living conditions are made available as soon as possible.