Fund, improve housing for military personnel

General Curtis LeMay, commander of Strategic Air Command, or SAC, was famous for his hands-on inspections of military bases. Senior officers serving under him often regaled their subordinates with stories of his visits.

LeMay had a process for the first visits to each base. When a Wing Commander took him to a specified location, he expected his subordinate to personally know the senior NCOs in each store.

When a new SAC Wing Commander was posted to a base after WWII, LeMay would give him a 90-day grace period to allow him enough time to familiarize himself with the base’s personnel and facilities. through “management-by-walk” leadership. Failure to meet the general’s expectations during an inspection would result in a quick replacement.

As a third generation veteran and real estate investor, I often wonder what LeMay would think of the condition of the housing at some of our military installations. Based on his high expectations of his wing commanders, I think he would challenge the way the contractors and the military leadership mismanaged him.

Military housing has undergone considerable changes since the outbreak of World War II. When my grandfather, John “Red” Morgan, joined the Army Air Corp, PMQ was covered by the Lanham Act, designed to meet the growing needs of the military. Unfortunately, the quality of the accommodation was often poor. Military personnel and their families could find themselves living in renovated garages or plywood huts. Some lacked running water or electricity. At most bases in the United States, only the oldest officers lived on duty. Families of junior officers were often forced to find accommodation elsewhere, usually with relatives.

During LeMay’s day, the Cold War required a larger standing army, especially to maintain complex weapon systems. The Wherry Law provided necessary housing while addressing the flaws in Lanham Law. The US military is reportedly leasing land from developers, guaranteeing the rent for homes built there. Therefore, housing costs have been kept low to ensure the tenant’s ability to pay.

When Congressional inquiries uncovered fraud in the Wherry program, it enacted the Capehart Housing Act in 1955. Under this program, the military would assume direct control of the housing, with tenants forfeiting their base allowance. for neighborhoods, or BAQ. Commanders like LeMay would carry out routine inspections of military homes, making sure residents mowed their lawns and shoveled their walkways to specific standards.

Military housing programs changed under the Reagan administration with the Military Building Authorization Act 1983 introducing Sections 801 and 802 housing. Each took a different approach to solving the housing problem, but both have ultimately failed due to high maintenance costs or the inability to attract potential investors due to BAQ limitations.

The Military Housing Privatization Initiative has changed the direction of management. New homes were built on a 50-year lease with private contractors hired to handle the maintenance. At many facilities, commanders were no longer performing ongoing home assessments.

If you were to search online for “Base Military Housing Problems,” you would find stories from Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Camp Lejeune, and Joint Base San Antonio about tenants suing contractors for negligence. In a recent case, two senior housing contract executives with Balfour Beatty Communities faked maintenance reports in order to receive a $ 2.5 million incentive.

Military housing needs funding for quality repair and maintenance programs, with military leadership and oversight. I can only imagine what my grandfather, John “Red” Morgan, recipient of the Air Force WWII Medal of Honor, would think if he had received a letter from his wife the informing him of the unsanitary housing conditions before he left for his mission to Berlin.

John J. Morgan is the grandson of WWII Air Force Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. Red Morgan.

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