NATICK, Mass.--Soldiers and their families are the Army's greatest asset. Day in and day out, they willingly make great sacrifices for their country, and in return, it is the enduring obligation of leadership to take care of them, especially when it comes to housing.

Brig. Gen. Vincent Malone, senior commander of the Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) hosted a housing town hall on Nov. 14 with Soldiers living in NSSC barracks and in housing at Hanscom Air Force Base. Feedback gathered from the discussion is intended to assist NSSC leadership in utilizing resources efficiently and effectively, to improve facilities and infrastructure, and to ensure that Soldiers and their families are provided safe, quality housing.

"It's on leadership to fix any problems through dialogue and feedback," said Malone. "But there has to be two-way communication."

Earlier in the day NSSC leadership held a groundbreaking ceremony to commence the construction of new family housing at Heritage Lane, located next to the installation. During the ceremony, Malone said that open communication is imperative for making improvements and that "military leaders from all service branches across all installations have had, and continue to have, conversations with residents to make certain they are afforded the quality of life commensurate with their service to the nation."

In Feb., Malone, joined by housing, fire, and public works officials from the U.S. Army Garrison Natick (USAG Natick), inspected the Natick barracks and family housing--which has been vacant pending the construction of new housing--and observed no health or safety issues.

Though NSSC plays no role in the management of Hanscom housing, Malone expressed the willingness to advocate on behalf of NSSC personnel and families residing there. "Hanscom is the best housing I have lived in, however, if you have any unresolved issues, use your chain of command…I am willing to take on any challenges you may face," he said.

Lt. Col. Andrew Henderson, USAG Natick commander, asked the Soldiers present to take note of things they would like to see incorporated into the design of the upcoming NSSC barracks renovation. "The next Soldier will have you to thank for your input into what our barracks need."

"You are building this for the next Soldier," echoed Malone as he reinforced the importance of Soldier input. "This is about today's Soldiers doing things for future Soldiers…decision makers [on these projects] may not be Soldiers so we appreciate your input."

The approximately 40 Soldiers in attendance raised no major concerns with their living situations; however, three important policies were mentioned to inform Hanscom's residents and their families.

First was Hanscom's Installation Youth Supervision Policy, which addresses the responsibility of and assists parents in ensuring the safety and well-being of their children. The policy recommends that before deciding to leave unsupervised, parents assess whether the child is comfortable being alone, if emotional maturity is sufficient, and whether their established safety plan is adequate.

Attendees were also reminded that personal firearms must be registered with Hanscom and Massachusetts. Those living in base housing may retain their privately owned firearms at their residence after properly registering those firearms through the 66th Security Forces Police Services section. Those possessing or intending to possess privately owned firearms must be knowledgeable of and in compliance with Massachusetts law.

Lastly, while possession and use of marijuana and cannabinoid (e.g. CBD, THC) products are legal in Massachusetts, installation residents were reminded that these products are illegal on Federal property, including military installations like NSSC and Hanscom. The use and/or possession of these or any controlled substance on installation is considered a violation.

NSSC residents and personnel are reminded that the Department of Public Works is the point of contact for facilities and they will respond to and address all requests in a timely manner. Call 508-206-4300 in the instance of an emergency.

Hanscom residents who have immediate concerns should contact the Straight Talk hotline at 781-225-1380 or Hanscom.StraightTalk@us.af.mil.