Free Market Military.com
September 21st, 2009
I was on a trip to Washington, DC recently and I visited several of my friends that are attending the Defense Information School (DINFOS) on Fort Meade. I stayed the night inside of the Army enlisted barracks the night before I went to Washington. I woke up feeling sick with a sore throat after one night stay. Why is this you ask, or why should you even care?
Well it just so happens that the Army barracks (and maybe the Marine and Navy Barracks) are infested with black mold and it just so happens the government has known for two years now.
I did some further investigation. What I found was a bit appalling.
Quick Information: DINFOS is a Joint DOD School it has Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coasties. Each service has their own barracks. However, the Army makes up the majority of DINFOS students.
Black Mold symptoms from Wikipedia
Depending on the length of exposure and volume of spores inhaled or ingested, symptoms can manifest as chronic fatigue or headaches, fever, irritation to the eyes, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat, sneezing, rashes, and chronic coughing. In severe cases of exposure or cases exacerbated by allergic reaction, symptoms can be extreme including nausea, vomiting, uncontrollable bowel movements, and bleeding in the lungs and nose.
It turns out that not long ago a new set of barracks that meets the Army living conditions standard were built. The new barracks are really nice and designed in an apartment complex style with two rooms and a kitchen to every apartment. The new complex was built because the old housing doesn’t meet new housing standards. The Army has the oldest of the barracks so the new barracks were supposed to house enlisted Soldiers. It makes sense, who ever has the oldest barracks gets the newest first.
Well, that’s not how it happened. About 2 years ago they found black mold in the barracks. So what did they do? They put all of the Air Force enlisted in the new barracks. Just so happens the old Air Force building was newer than the old Army building. So, put the Army guys in the Air Force building, right!? Nope! They condemned the old Air Force barracks, boarded up all the entrances and built a huge fence around the complex. Hmmmm….
Doesn’t make a lot of sense till I spoke with someone that works for the commander’s staff.
The commander of the base figured that it would be easier to get more funds from congress for building more living complexes if the Air Force took the new building and then said, “We need more money for housing, the Army is living in substandard housing, and it’s infested with black mold.” It would have been harder to get money had the Army lived in the new building and the other services lived in their complexes that aren’t as degraded.
Good intentions? For the Soldiers at DINFOS, the good intentions of getting better barracks are making them sick and could also be causing them to lose their jobs.
How could mold cost someone their job? DINFOS is for intelligent warriors. DINFOS teaches courses in; Journalism, Broadcasting, Multimedia and Intelligence. While all of those jobs require a clear mind, the broadcasting career relies heavily on the ability to speak. Broadcasting for the military is TV Production and Radio. Can you think of any radio or TV personality that’s going to take a chance of ruining their money making voice?
So that sore throat from the black mold could cause you to fail in announcing skills. In the miltiary, failing any subject will either force you into a different career field or expel you from the military. Several people I talked to said they were getting sick all the time and had to go to the hospital occasionally.
Two years ago when they found the black mold the military took two actions in concern to the infestation. The first thing they did was remove the tiles. The tiles were so full of black mold that the weight bowed them in the middle. The second thing they did was paint over the mold. I’m not an expert, but I don’t think painting over the mold is enough.
Two months ago, after a meeting between enlisted Soldiers and the Inspector General about computer access and the living conditions in the barracks; the old computer room was reopened. It just so happened that when the cadre opened the room they found the ceiling tiles sunken from mold infestation. It’s not clear if they just missed this room previously or if they cleaned it and then closed the room off allowing the mold to grow unchecked by routine cleaning.
Now here is some nasty cover up by the cadre. The Army cadre were told that the buildings were going to be inspected by the health inspector. So instead of allowing the truth to come out about the barracks. They mustered the prior service and the all the fresh out-of-basic Soldiers to replace all of the tiles, and then clean and scrub the two Army barracks with bleach; the night before the inspector was to arrive.
Now you have to ask yourself; Should the government be allowed to dictate health care, when it can’t even take care of it’s own? Just think of Walter Reed and rats running around.
Insult to Injury: The Airmen just don’t get the new barracks, they also get more money because the new barracks don’t meet Air Force standards. Whoops! Are the Army standards really that low they you have to pay Airmen to live in brand new barracks.
More Insult to Injury: The Army only pays more money for housing if your in a combat or danger zone. Apparently, mold and substandard housing isn’t a danger.
Doubling Over in Insult to Injury: Well, it turns out that the new barracks, that the Air Force dudes are staying in; is full. So instead of putting them in with the Army or other service. They gave them their own hotels. WAH! I guess Uncle Sam loves my Air Force brother more than me, why not put some Army Dudes in the hotels and get them out of those condemn buildings?
Makes sense. When I was stationed at Guantanamo Bay a new Air Force arrival showed up at our barracks and immedeatly complained. The guy was like, “This doesn’t meet Air Force standards.” Even though there was about 40 other Air Force enlisted staying in the same barracks. They gave him his own hotel room on base.
Additional Problems I found: This is the other stuff I noticed around the barracks. The air conditioning doesn’t work in all of the rooms (which they won’t fix because they want to condemn the building). Even the rooms the air conditioning works in, the air conditioning fails to remove moisture from the air. It’s just cold wet air. Which causes the mold and also causes the carpets to peel. You know those carpets that are built in little squares and are held down by glue, well all of the floors have missing or destroyed carpet because the moisture causes the carpet to rise and peel. Since the air isn’t dry, everything is wet. Electronics start acting funny, clothes are always moldy, the carpets and wooden closets are always wet.
This was also not clear, either the barracks have already been condemned, but remain open. Or, they are to be condemn once they get people out.
It’s almost 5 years after this article. The soldiers are still stuck living in the condemned buildings. Nothing has changed.
You should try visiting Ft Myer VA sometime if you wish to see more Sub-standard, unhealthy living conditions for soldiers. Trust me…I’m here.