FORT HOOD — When Spc. Kellen Chunn, his wife Kimberly and their two children moved into their home shortly after Kellen returned from a deployment to South Korea, the family began noticing problems almost immediately: Especially with their 14-year-old daughter, who has brain cancer and often requires the use of a wheelchair.
“We didn’t even get a working stove until April of this year,” said Kimberly, who also requires a wheelchair after major back surgeries. “On Friday we called (maintenance) because the breaker panel has water and rust coming out, pouring down the wall. They sent a plumber because it was water related — he came in and just said there was nothing he could do because it was electric.”
Those were not even the worst of the problems they have had since moving to the home in September 2018, she said. Putting her daughter’s life further at risk were mold from the air ducts and an air conditioner that often stopped working.
“Our daughter can’t get hot — if she does, she can stop breathing because of her brain cancer,” Kimberly said. “And it’s supposed to be fully (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, but it’s not. Our home doesn’t support it.”
The Chunns were among roughly 100 people speaking about their on-post living quarters problems at a housing status meeting.
III Corps, Fort Hood Garrison Command and Fort Hood Family Housing hosted a quarterly town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss the status of fixing substandard military family housing on the post.
The town hall meetings came about after acting Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, while still the secretary of the Army, ordered a full investigation into civilian owned and operated post housing at all Army installations shortly after a U.S. Senate committee hearing about the general dissatisfaction of military communities Feb. 14.
Fort Hood held its first town hall on the issue Feb. 22, and many of the same concerns raised then are still being raised — primarily black mold and poor maintenance response times.
While the Chunn’s case was one of the more extreme, the post has been working with its civilian partners such as Lend Lease — the Australian firm responsible for the majority of the more than 6,800 homes in family housing — to ensure things are getting done, said Col. Jason Westbrock, Fort Hood’s garrison commander. That includes 100 percent of the homes now receive full inspections after a resident moves out to make sure any problem is fixed before another resident moves in.
“That’s not to say we’re done by any stretch of the imagination,” Westbrock said. “We’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot to do. We did have some residents bring up some issues; some we knew about and continue to work through, and some we were hearing about for the first time.”
Westbrock said the garrison will continue to work with its civilian partners with family housing to address the issues brought up at the meeting.
“I live on the post in Army housing, too,” the garrison commander said. “I’ve been a soldier for 31 years, and soldiers and their family members matter to us and to the chain of command, to me. We have the best interests of the soldiers in mind, and as soon as we get an issue raised to us, we act on it to fix it. So if I don’t know about it, I can’t fix it.”