As part of an ongoing Army-wide effort to resolve unsatisfactory conditions in Army family housing, Fort Leonard Wood’s leadership held a town hall to provide information and gain feedback Feb. 27 at Pershing Community Center.
Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle Jr., U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, and Shawna Swanson, Balfour Beatty regional director, answered questions and addressed issues from Soldiers and their families regarding various housing issues.
The meeting saw a heavy turnout, with about 244 service members, families and leaders in attendance.
“One of my chief responsibilities is to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents here at Fort Leonard Wood,” Towns said. “I take that responsibility very seriously.”
Towns encouraged all residents to use existing reporting systems to request maintenance of their quarters, and encouraged candid feedback.
The garrison commander invited anyone uncomfortable with voicing their concerns aloud to join him after the meeting to converse more privately.
“I appreciate your candor tonight,” he said.
Whittle was present on behalf of Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, who was away on training. He accepted accountability for the chain of command.
“One question you may have is ‘Who is accountable for problems in housing for Army families?’” he said. “It’s the chain of command, myself included.”
Towns assured the audience that the chain of command is working actively to fix any issues.
“When (the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army) heard of numerous concerns at several installations around the Army, they directly leapt into action,” he said. “The initial manifestation of that action here at Fort Leonard Wood is tonight’s town hall.”
Now through March 13, unit leaders will complete visits to family homes and Soldier barracks on Fort Leonard Wood to assess the scale and scope of housing issues.
“However, when they come to your house, please know that it is not an inspection,” Towns said. “It is the opportunity for you to have one-on-one interface with your chain of command to discuss your concerns about family housing.”
In a recent statement, Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper said, “We are deeply troubled by the recent reports highlighting the deficient conditions in some of our family housing.”
“It is unacceptable for our families who sacrifice so much to have to endure these hardships in their own homes,” he said. “Our most sacred obligation as Army leaders is to take care of our people — our Soldiers and our family members.”
Secretary Esper added “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.”
To submit a maintenance work order for family housing, call Fort Leonard Wood Homes (Balfour Beatty) at 573.329.4000, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For any unresolved issues or concerns or any life, health or safety concerns during the duty day, call the Garrison Housing Office at 573.596.0859.
To report any life, health or safety concerns that have not been resolved within 24 hours, call the Garrison Emergency Operation Center Housing Hotline at 573.329.3926, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To submit a work order for barracks, call the DPW Service Order Desk at 573.596.0333, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.