By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsSeptember 30, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Oct. 1, 2019) -- When the allotted time for the U.S. Army Japan Housing Town Hall ended here Sept. 25, Maj. Gen. Viet X. Luong decided to keep going. Too many people were asking good questions.
"I just don't feel comfortable leaving this without people being able to address all of their concerns, because this is the venue we have to be able to do that," said Luong, commander of USARJ. "So continue to ask those questions."
Community members asked about moving policies, landscaping changes, air conditioning and dehumidifiers, the dissemination of community information, Directorate of Public Works work orders, and mold prevention.
This was the fourth housing-related town hall held in the past year, including an initial one on lead paint issues, and more than 300 people attended at the Camp Zama Community Club.
U.S. Army leadership has asked installations worldwide to hold the meetings to address housing issues and increase the quality of life in Army housing.
"The health of you and your family members are paramount to this command, and we do greatly care," Luong told attendees at the beginning of the meeting, adding that garrison officials have done an effective job tackling all the major issues that have come up in previous town halls.
Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, updated attendees on progress the garrison has made on those issues.
For example, garrison personnel have made sure dehumidifier instructions are in Japanese and English and have provided enough dehumidifiers so there isn't a shortage, Matelski said.
"We continue to bring those in, and I can show that today we have no waiting list," Matelski said.
USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Norman encouraged people to visit the self-help store to pick up dehumidifiers.
"If we run out, we're going to get more," Norman said. "… We want to do everything we can, so please, if we don't have enough, let us know."
Everyone has a responsibility to prevent mold, Norman said, and it is important to clean housing quarters and barracks so mold doesn't grow and become an issue where DPW personnel have to step in.
Matelski said the garrison also plans to begin installing new blinds that are safer for young children and will put the garrison in compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act.
Matelski said that although leaders have not received any calls with any life, health or safety issues since the last town hall, he did want to update everyone on the air conditioning in the high-rise, apartment-style housing.
The system is old and has a tendency to break down, but DPW personnel are working hard on a long-term solution, Matelski said. He encouraged residents to notify DPW about problems so they can get to work on them quickly.
Matelski said housing officials are analyzing a recent modest population growth with a reduction in housing units and future renovation projects to determine if the garrison may face a housing shortage in future years.
Matelski provided an update on housing renovations as well.
"You'll see notification in advance of those houses going into renovation as we work through the process, but it's going to take about 10 years to fully restore all of our houses, and so we just ask for your patience as we work through this process," Matelski said.
Luong said he encourages people to contact him with unresolved housing issues through the command hotline at (DSN) 262-3228 or (COMM) 046-407-3228. People should still contact DPW and their chain of command for routine housing issues, however. The hotline is for persistent issues that require the commander's attention.
"If the system isn't working, the buck stops right here with me and the sergeant major, so I guarantee you we'll do everything we can to take care of it," Luong said.
The numbers for routine DPW customer service are (DSN) 263-4613 or 263-4274, or (COMM) 046-407-4613 or 046-407-4274.