Military families described “slum-like” living conditions of privately managed housing on U.S. bases at a hearing on Wednesday, The Washington Post reports. Testimonies from wives and mothers, along with survey results released Wednesday, reportedly described black mold, termites, flooding, wiring issues, and vermin infestations. Complaints and concerns from families about the issues were reportedly silenced by “property management companies and commanders.” “I wouldn’t recommend my own children join the service, and my husband has been a Marine for 12 years,” Crystal Cornwall, a Marine Corps spouse, told lawmakers after describing an incident of mice chewing through infant pacifiers at a North Carolina base. Other families told the Post that sanitation issues like mold and untreated water in their homes have caused health problems in their children—including pneumonia, breathing issues, and even epilepsy and cancer.
Army Secretary Mark T. Esper and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said in a joint statement that they were “deeply troubled” to hear of the housing issues. “We will hold our chain of command and private contractors accountable to ensure they are meeting their obligations to provide safe, high-quality family housing,” they said. A panel of executives from the private property management companies told Congress they had little issue with the idea of being held accountable by withholding payment until work orders were completed.