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A sprawling new survey says a ‘culture of resilience’ helped US military families weather housing woes for years
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
The top three overall issues that the survey's respondents reported were maintenance, repairs or mediation (56.8%); mold (29.9%); and filth in homes (24.7%). Of the respondents, almost 800 people attributed "deteriorated health to the environments in their homes."
Conducted from January 30 to February 6 of this year, the survey gives a general idea of the state of military housing six months after Reuters' bombshell investigation brought the housing crisis to the forefront of military issues.
MFAN says in its report that the SASC asked the organization "for input from military families regarding privatized military housing."The report was "entered into evidence in its subcommittee hearing," which took place on February 13, 2019. Since the survey was conducted — and the issue came under heavier scrutiny from the Senate Armed Services Committee — a number of efforts to improve housing has been undertaken by Congress and the Defense Department.
The problems with privatized housing can't and won't be fixed overnight, and MFAN says as much, identifying the intent of the survey to "understand and evaluate" housing issues.
But the service secretaries, along with Congress, have made a number of steps hoping to clean up the mess. The Army established a registry to help track health concerns that arose due to housing problems; the Secretaries put forward a Tenants Bill of Rights, aiming to put more power into the hands of the service members and their families; SASC members have proposed legislation that would increase oversight; and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has even called for a criminal investigation.
Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in a Stars and Stripes op-ed published on Monday that it's "time for lasting, legal change that provides military families — the backbone of our national defense — with the relief and stability they deserve."
In the Senate's draft of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, released on Thursday, three provisions are laid out as means to improve military housing: the Tenant Bill of Rights; "new quality assurance and quality control measures and increasing health and hazard inspections;" and giving an additional $301.8 million to ensure installations have "the necessary government house personnel to implement thorough oversight and planning measures."
The housing companies have also said they've taken numerous steps forward in addressing concerns, whether by tackling maintenance orders, improving online portals for residents, increasing staffing, or other fixes.
In a statement provided to Task & Purpose, Lincoln Military Housing CEO Jarl Bliss said that results of the MFAN survey "of less than eight percent of residents is in sharp contrast to the thousands of independent surveys that a majority of Lincoln residents completed in 2018 that consistently showed high satisfaction."
Corvias spokeswoman Kelly Douglas told Task & Purpose that "4% of our resident population ... participated in the survey." She also pointed to a press release Corvias sent out on Tuesday, which listed a number of improvements Corvias is undertaking. Per the release, "Corvias has earned a high (4.42 on a scale of 1 to 5) satisfaction rating on completed work orders," and has a satisfaction rating with new residents of 4.46 on the same scale.
Hunt Military Communities spokeswoman Cindy Gersch said that Hunt is "fully committed to doing everything we can to address our valued residents' needs," and "takes the responsibility of serving those who serve and sacrifice so much for our country extremely seriously."
SEE ALSO: Private housing companies are forcing military families into silence if they want their problems addressed
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.