By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsDecember 6, 2019
CAMP ZAMA (Dec. 6, 2019) -- Camp Zama leaders provided updates and sought input on housing issues during the most recent U.S. Army Japan Housing Town Hall at the Camp Zama Community Club here Dec. 3.
"I would ask that if you are here and you have a lot of issues, or anything that you can contribute for the goodness of this audience, please come up and talk to us, share your ideas and ask the questions," said Maj. Gen. Viet X. Luong, commanding general of USARJ, as he kicked off the meeting.
This was the fifth housing-related town hall USARJ has held in the past 18 months, including an initial one on lead paint, and about 300 people attended. 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.
Residents asked questions of a panel that included Luong; Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan; USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Norman; and Sgt. Maj. Christopher Magee, operations sergeant major for USARJ. The panel also had subject-matter experts on hand for assistance in answering questions.
The questions addressed issues about space on bike racks, noise, garbage cans, construction safety, how residents can learn the results of recent radon testing, and overnight visits in the barracks.
Updates have become an important part of the meetings, and Matelski provided follow-up information on questions residents asked during the last meeting in September.
For example, the garrison continues to install window blinds that are safer for young children and will put the garrison in compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act; two barracks halls are receiving new appliances and furniture; and the self-help team expects to have English directions for Japanese equipment in February, Matelski said.
Another issue raised at the previous meeting was how to follow up on a work order, and Matelski urged members of the audience to always ask for a work-order number when submitting one.
Residents should also make sure to call the Directorate of Public Works maintenance line with housing issues, Matelski said. Those numbers are (DSN) 315-263-4613 or (DSN) 315-263-4274 or (COMM) 046-407-4613 or (COMM) 046-407-4274.
Matelski also urged members of the community to call the command hotline at (DSN) 262-3228 or (COMM) 046-407-3228 if they were experiencing persistent and unresolved issues.
"If you have an emergency life, health, safety issue, please let us know immediately," Matelski said. "Our job is to make sure that your family - and if you're a Soldier living in the barracks - that you're taken care of."
Officials also continued to address how to best inform the community, Matelski said.
To start, the administrators of the garrison Facebook page, instead of solely informing people about events, have begun to create event announcements that people can integrate into their calendars, Matelski said.
In addition, garrison officials continue to look at ways to inform members of the community who are not on social media, Matelski said, and they are considering email as an option.
In the meantime, however, those not on social media can view the commander's channel on television, listen to the monthly AFN Tokyo radio call-in with Matelski on the Eagle 810 Radio Show and read the monthly Bugle magazine, Matelski said.
Matelski and Norman also updated members of the community on an increase in population on Camp Zama that may cause some civilians and Soldiers to move off post in the future. In the near future, however, no one will have to move off post, Matelski and Norman said.
Luong said he has found the housing town hall meetings useful and is proud of how the garrison has tackled housing issues and continues to look to the future.
"[The meetings are] an opportunity for you to be able to tackle a specific issue, which is quality of life in housing," Luong said.