Garrison leadership hosted a walking town hall for installation families and their leaders, Oct. 14.
According to Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan Reichard, Hunter Army Airfield garrison senior enlisted leader, the intent for this town hall was to inform leaders on the state of Army housing here and to provide the community a chance to communicate with leadership. The first hour of the town hall was spent walking installation leadership through the Hunter Ridge housing area.
“Leaders need to understand what the requirements are for housing, how housing supports their Soldiers and what Soldiers get for in return for their basic housing allowance,” Reichard said. “We also want leaders to see how Balfour Beatty interacts with our Soldiers and addresses problems.”
According to Reichard, many issues in Army housing are the result of poor communication or a lack of knowledge. For example, more than 70% of HVAC problems stem from residents not changing out their HVAC filter as required said Carl Owens, Directorate of Public Works chief of housing,
Reichard brought leaders into one empty home that had been damaged by the previous tenant, costing Balfour Beatty and the Army almost $10,000 to repair. Leaders need to be aware of issues, such as excessive damage to one’s residence, because those issues almost always coincide with deeper problems such as child neglect or mental health, Reichard said.
According to Douglas Delzeith, DPW housing supervisor, when Soldiers allow their home to be destroyed like this, it affects everyone. Money that would otherwise be reinvested in the community is spent on repairs, and families waiting for the home must wait until those repairs can be completed.
“They Army does not let BBC (Balfour Beatty) do whatever they want. We have to send a budget and a plan for approval,” Delzeith said. “Every single dollar is still managed by the Army.”
The last hour, Garrison leadership along with leaders from the Directorate of Emergency Services, Directorate of Public Works, Army Housing and Balfour Beatty were available for the community to ask questions or address concerns.
“We want them to understand that Balfour Beatty wants to educate you, help you out and address issues,” Reichard said. “This is how we improve communities, by speaking up and working together.”
Every community on the installation will be visited with a walking town hall once a year. Residents of any neighborhood may participate in any of the upcoming walking town halls regardless of neighborhood.
Fort Stewart will host its walking town hall Oct. 29 when 3rd Infantry Division and Garrison leaders walk through Isenhower Terrace and Marne Point. Division and Garrison leadership will be at Marne Point Community Center at 3:30 p.m. to discuss any concerns regarding Army housing with residents.