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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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April 21, 2024

     A new government report detailed the dire living conditions some military members face in their barracks across the country, highlighting a problem military leaders have so far struggled to fix.  This is all problematic by leadership incompetence.

     A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that young troops living in barracks on military installations have been forced to confront everything from pests such as roaches and bed bugs to toxic waste and even squatters, potentially putting the health and safety of members at risk while damaging morale. The 118-page report, which was published Monday by the GAO, concluded that military leaders at the Pentagon have not been able to provide proper oversight over the problem and have mostly left the issues up to each individual service to fix. 

     Investigators from the GAO visited 12 unnamed military installations to compile the report and spoke with service members in discussion groups to gain their perspective. Many service members complained of dirty water that was seemingly unsafe to drink in their barracks buildings. Others complained of broken air conditioning and heating systems, forcing many members to purchase individual air conditioning units for their sweltering rooms or turn to unsafe space heaters to provide warmth in the colder months. Another issue noted by investigators was that some buildings lacked secure windows and doors that have in some cases led to squatters occupying the rooms.

     In one extreme case, officials at one installation told GAO investigators that "service members are responsible for cleaning biological waste that may remain in a barracks room after a suicide."  The GAO report included dozens of photos of military barracks buildings from the installations investigators visited, with the photos showing restrooms with sewage overflowing, cracked sewage pipes, water damage, pests and mold or mildew growth. Other photos showed the possessions belonging to apparent squatters who were not authorized to be living in the buildings.                                                         

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