In an effort to get a handle on what has grown into a military-wide crisis in privatized housing, the Army is launching a registry to help keep track of complaints, according to a memo obtained by Task & Purpose and later announced by the Army.
The memo — signed by Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Nadja West — will be sent to Army residents who have already submitted work orders with health or safety concerns.
"Through a records review of Army Family Housing work orders, you have been identified as having submitted a work order addressing health or safety concerns," the memo reads. "In an effort to ensure this and any other concern you may have has been thoroughly addressed, the U.S. Army Medical Command has established a Housing Environmental Health Response Registry."
The purpose of the registry is to provide the resident with information "on housing environmental health hazards," help the resident seek "medical care for any housing related illnesses or concerns," and share said concerns with Army leadership.
"[W]e encourage you to call ... and use the registry if anyone in your household has experienced unresolved housing-related health or safety concerns," West said.
John Resta, acting deputy chief of staff of Public Health for U.S. Army Medical Command and director of the U.S. Army Public Health Center, said in the Army's announcement that there is a "team of trained professionals standing by to assist all callers. ... They will document the caller's concerns and assist them with access to medical care if needed ... We want to hear all concerns to we can make sure they are properly addressed."
After residents call the registry numbers — provided in the memo — the resident will receive a questionnaire which asks questions such as "Are you concerned that you or others are experiencing health problems because of something in the home environment," as well as questions about where the resident lived, in what kind of home (barracks, duplex, etc.) and when the resident moved in, and out, of the home.
Housing-related health illnesses have been at the forefront of the conversation when it comes to tackling decrepit privatized military housing. A Navy housing resident that Task & Purpose previously spoke with said she and her sons have respiratory problems which she believes to be a result of mold in her home's air ducts.
And her problem is not unique, or restricted to just the Navy.
"I firmly believe that burn pits and the military housing crisis are the health scandals of the generation who have fought the Global War on Terror," Army spouse Leigh Tuttle told Task & Purpose.
Army Secretary Mark Esper told Reuters in February that families were living in "unconscionable" conditions. Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters that the housing issues were "embarrassing," and a "reflection on me, and every leader in the Army."
The registry will no doubt be seen as one step forward in tackling the issue. Tuttle said she hopes that the registry is "made public ... I also hope that through this registry, they will be able to connect the dots as to what companies have been the worst offenders."
"The Army established the Registry because we take housing issues seriously," the questionnaire reads.