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The Department of Defense’s military barracks are in “poor conditions,” with some living spaces posing “potentially serious health and safety risks” to service members, a recent government watchdog report found.
According to a September report from the Government Accountability Office, some service members are residing in military barracks with “poor living conditions” that “undermine quality of life and readiness.” The government watchdog found “weaknesses” in the DOD’s efforts to maintain the barracks’ living conditions.
It stated that the conditions for service members are “unreliable” and, in some cases, “substandard.”
“GAO observed barracks that pose potentially serious health and safety risks — such as broken windows and inoperable fire systems — and that do not meet minimum DOD standards for privacy and configuration,” the report stated.
Officials told the watchdog group that thousands of service members are living in less-than-ideal conditions.
The GAO noted that it previously reported issues with barracks conditions in 2002 and 2003. At that time, it found that “most training barracks” needed “significant repair” and often lacked “adequate heating and air conditioning,” lacked proper ventilation, and had “plumbing-related deficiencies.”
After recently inspecting 10 campuses and interviewing officials and residents, the GAO found that the substandard conditions “raised questions about the DOD’s management of barracks.”
One barrack received a condition score above 90 but was still shut down for being “uninhabitable.” Former residents told the watchdog agency that they frequently dealt with “clogged showers, broken door locks, broken elevators, and apparent mold growth.” Senior enlisted service members called the barrack’s conditions “unacceptable.”
A housing facility in Washington, D.C., received a condition score of 86, yet air conditioning units in 25% of the rooms were inoperable, the report stated. Additionally, the barrack had 12 broken windows and a broken elevator.
“Service members we met with at this installation described living in the barracks without air conditioning on hot days, especially after being outside all day for work or training, as continuous misery,” the GAO said.
Service members alerted the GAO to the presence of mold and pests, broken fire alarm systems, and poor water quality.
“Officials at one installation told us service members are responsible for cleaning biological waste that may remain in a barracks room after a suicide,” the report noted.
The GAO noticed “a bad odor” at a facility that officials stated resulted from a methane gas leak from aging sewage pipes.
The watchdog agency reported that poor living conditions can “pose potentially serious risks to the physical and mental health of service members, as well as their safety.”
It added that no military branch regularly evaluates the impact of barracks conditions on service members’ decision to re-enlist, despite being a DOD requirement.
The GAO made 31 recommendations to the DOD to better maintain and improve living conditions for service members. The department “concurred” with 23 of the recommendations and “partially concurred” with the remainder. The DOD vowed to update the barracks and its oversight procedures.
“GAO continues to believe DOD should fully implement all of these recommendations,” the report concluded.
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Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.