FORT HOOD, Texas - Providing Soldiers with a place to call home is important to Michelle Lenis, whose focus is providing Soldiers with safe and comfortable living conditions here.
In the past 12 years, Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works – Engineering Division has renovated 59 of the 99 barracks currently on post. They are currently in the process of renovating 11 barracks – seven Hammerhead-style barracks and four H-frame barracks.
“Everyone should have a place to call their home that allows them to relax and find their own peace, be it a house, apartment, dorm, or barracks,” Lenis, DPW – Engineering Division’s Management & Outside Oversight Team Branch chief, shared. “These places should be safe and provide the comforts that we all work so hard for.”
The barracks currently under renovation were originally built between 1951-1955. After six and seven decades of use, the condition of the buildings inevitably decline due to normal wear and tear. As the Army has changed its standards for barracks, DPW has applied those Army standards to the renovated barracks throughout the years.
“Our DPW team is committed to providing our single Soldiers with safe, healthy and the best possible accommodations while they are assigned to Fort Hood,” Brian Dosa, DPW director, said. “This includes building new barracks to address of deficit of rooms, renovating our current facilities to bring them to the Army standard, and also repairing things that break.”
Lenis said the barracks are typically demolished down to what they call the super structure, which includes the foundation, structural floors and structural roof.
“To begin with, all utilities are shut off so it’s safe to come in and do a full demo,” Rod Borja – quality control manager with Guyco, the contractor in charge of the barracks renovation, said. “They bring up heavy equipment to demo the walls. After all the heavy demo is done, they come back and do what we call detailed demo, which finalizes the process.”
Lenis said the demolition time period is the highest risk for a modification because many things can be revealed that they did not know about prior to designing the project. After making any unforeseen changes, they may begin constructing the exterior walls and roof.
“During this time, we increase the thermal and moisture barriers that allow us to ensure this is an energy efficient building,” she said.
Once the new building nears completion, they have to run tests to ensure everything is code compliant and operational before allowing Soldiers to live in the buildings.
When the given space allows it, the newly renovated apartment-style barracks include two bedrooms, with individual walk-in closets. The two Soldiers sharing the space will have a kitchen and bathroom to share.
The barracks in the 14000 block are expected to be complete in the Spring of 2022, with Soldiers moving into the first barracks in April 2022. Five barracks under renovation in the 10000 block are expected to be complete in the Spring of 2023, with Soldiers moving in around November 2023. Two additional barracks in the 10000 block are expected to be complete in early 2024.
Dosa shared that after the current barracks renovations are complete, Fort Hood only has 19 more barracks to be renovated. The remaining barracks include 17 Hammerhead-style barracks and two barracks located at West Fort Hood.
“Thanks for everyone’s patience as we continue barracks renovations – we are making great progress! Please remember to call in work orders to 287-2113 or use the maintenance app to let us know when you need assistance in your rooms,” Dosa said.
Looking ahead to the future, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Fort Worth District awarded a construction bid to MW Building in July for Fort Hood’s 100th barracks, which will be housed within the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade footprint. Construction will begin in the Winter of 2022. The expected occupancy for these barracks is in fall of 2023.
As Soldiers continue training, deploying and fighting, the Fort Hood DPW will continue renovating their barracks and improve living conditions.
“These Soldiers fight the battles I only have to read about and hear on the news,” Lenis said. “They deserve a safe comfortable home to return to.”