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Lawmakers demand answers from Army over squalid barracks conditions, scant progress since damning report

After a 2023 GAO probe into squalid living conditions at U.S. Army bases here at home, a dozen lawmakers demanded the military take action while acknowledging scant progress.

As Americans celebrate freedom nationwide on July 4, some of those charged with preserving that liberty are still living in squalor months after a damning Government Accountability Office report exposed some of the worst conditions, several lawmakers said in a letter to Army brass.

A dozen lawmakers demanded the military branch take swifter action at its stateside bases, including North Carolina’s sprawling Fort Liberty; formerly Fort Bragg.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., whose district includes the 250-square-mile installation, led a recent letter calling on Army Secretary Christine Wormuth to fix “completely unacceptable” conditions, while acknowledging some, however insufficient, progress has been made.


“We need to know whether the Army is doing all it can to quickly implement effective solutions to improve housing conditions like we’ve seen at Fort Liberty/Fort Bragg,” Hudson separately told Fox News Digital.

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“Not only is better quality housing key to help meet recruitment and retention goals, it is critical to ensuring our military’s readiness.” 

The letter, addressed to Wormuth, three generals and a sergeant major, demanded “swift action” to address “substandard indoor environmental conditions” they consider major health risks.

“[They] are contributing to long-term chronic illnesses and growing liabilities. These living environments have become a detriment to our recruiting and retention, as well as the readiness and resiliency of our warfighters,” Hudson wrote along with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., and Greg Pence, R-Ind., brother of the former vice president.

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Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, Don Bacon, R-Neb., Brian Mast, R-Fla., August Pfluger, R-Texas, Tom Kean Jr., R-N.J., Pat Fallon, R-Texa,s and Dan Bishop, R-N.C., were also party to the letter.

The letter cited a 2023 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on hazardous conditions at 12 unnamed military installations. The report included photos appearing to show feces spilling over the floor of a restroom, water-damaged ceilings and clumps of black mold. 

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At the time, the GAO determined Pentagon officials had not been able to provide proper oversight and left solutions up to each military branch to rectify.

The timing of the June 24 letter, published on Tuesday by Hudson, suggested some of the issues and evidence in the report had not been properly addressed.

However, the lawmakers added the Pentagon made some progress in its “Strategy for Resilient & Healthy Defense Communities” program, including public commitments to meet external health certification requirements for air, humidity, light and water.

The letter cited corrective actions taken at Fort George G. Meade near Columbia, Maryland, in that regard, lawmakers said.

Smucker said military families in his Lancaster-area district directly expressed to him their concerns about the matter.

He said military families there told him they found the conditions “appalling,” while adding there is no excuse for such “substandard and dangerous” environs.

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“The Department of Defense must act without delay to respond to our concerns,” Smucker said.

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Fitzpatrick, a former counterintelligence specialist who was embedded with U.S. special forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom, said Wednesday there is no greater calling than military service and that soldiers deserve better.

“Especially at a time when there are people illegally crossing our border and being housed in luxury accommodations, it is of the utmost importance that we make our military families a priority,” Fitzpatrick said.

In the letter, the lawmakers demanded Army officials specify what actions they will take with remaining 2024 funding to address the issues, and asked what is preventing timely health-related upgrades on-base. They also asked for plans to use empirical standards and benchmarks to ensure future progress.

In response to lawmakers’ concerns, a U.S. Army spokesperson agreed enlisted men and women deserve safe, high-quality barracks.

“Army senior leaders are committed to continuing to improve barracks conditions through concrete actions to ensure a living experience that enhances well-being, readiness, recruitment, and retention,” Matt Ahearn said.

Ahearn added Army officials plan to respond directly to the lawmakers.

Fox News’ Michael Lee contributed to this report.

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