By Paul Lara, Belvoir EagleFebruary 7, 2020
House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee staff came to Belvoir, Jan. 30, with Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commanding general, Installation Management Command, to better understand residents' housing concerns and find the best way forward.
Jeanine Womble and John Muller met with more than a dozen displaced Service members and spouses at the Officers' Club to hear their experiences.
Gabram, just a week into his new command, spoke to the complexities faced by the Army.
"The challenge for us is to connect the dots and find a root-cause. That is what we're trying to do," said Gabram.
A displaced Soldier addressed the staffers, and wanted to let them know about maintenance fatigue.
"I think the repetitive nature of the quality of repairs on the houses is really taxing on the families," he said. "You get one thing repaired, and if it's not done right, you have to come back, and families have to take off work. That's been pretty enormous for my family."
Womble noted one of their tasks is to standardize procedures throughout the military.
"We would like it to be consistent across the enterprise, because we live in a world of joint bases; we live in a world where, by being in the military, you're going to move from place to place. But, it's as likely as not that your next installation will be a joint base operated by the Air Force or the Navy," said Womble, adding it's important that families know what to expect.
Muller noted that the latest Defense Authorization Bill included a new Tenant Bill of Rights, which will help set baselines, clarify residents' rights, and set ground rules of who will pay for what.
One resident said she was impressed with the garrison quality assurance inspectors, relating that, during a recent home inspection, an industrial hygienist answered her questions and said, for the first time, she had some security in knowing what was happening.
According to Womble, Belvoir's QA model is being used at other installations, so residents have an independent validator beyond the partner doing the work.
In a subsequent tour of two homes, representatives of Michaels and Clark, privatized housing partners, showed a home under repair, explained the steps involved to fully assess the home for additional mold, and ensured that garrison QA inspectors get to check the work before and after walls and flooring are replaced.
In a separate, finished home on Forney Loop, it was noted that many redesigns are being implemented to prevent moisture issues, including different bathroom designs and replacing some carpeting with vinyl flooring.
Gabram pledges to re-build trust with families in the days ahead.
"Our mission is to regain your trust. I pledge to you, we will not quit to try to regain it."