FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) – The Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark Esper, visited Fort Bragg Friday. He was there to highlight family programs but the focus quickly shifted to military housing.
Esper apologized to thousands of families living in military housing. Many called the conditions dangerous.
“The problems are unconscionable,” Esper said.
Esper has been on the job for 16 months. He said he became aware of problems with military housing a few weeks ago.
“The key task is to get the problem homes fixed. Let’s take care of our families, our soldiers, and then we can deal with the long term structural changes we need to make with regard to the relationship with the private contractors,” Esper said.
Military housing has long been maintained by private contractors, not the military.
Military families testified before Congress earlier this month, citing lead in the water, asbestos, leaking ceilings, roaches, and rats.
Esper said he’s already met with the CEOs of 7 of those private contractors.
“We visited a couple homes here. Both occupants were offered the opportunity to move. One is choosing to take it. They will move I think in the next week or so,” Esper said.
Esper said they’re in the process of doing a full inventory of all military housing.
Moving forward, he said agreements need to be restructured and better reporting systems need to be in place so the military can track work orders.
“It’s clear that in many cases they have either deferred maintenance or they’ve done shotty work and it needs to be fixed. But that’s something they should pay for, not residents, not the United States Army,” Esper said.