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Marine Corps commandant orders servicewide review of housing conditions

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Marines and Sailors during a visit to Sigonella, Italy, Dec. 25, 2018. Gen. Neller visited deployed service members in Europe, Southwest Asia, and the Middle East during the holiday season. (Sgt. Olivia G. Ortiz/U.S. Marine Corps)

The Marine Corps commandant has ordered commanders to request site visits at all housing for Marines and sailors in their charge after congressional testimony and media reports detailed deficiencies at bases around the world.

Gen. Robert Neller ordered the review in a white letter tweeted by Neller and the Marine Corps on Friday and addressed to all command generals, officers, officers-in-charge and senior enlisted leaders.

Requests for site visits to every residence in government housing, privatized military housing and off-base civilian rentals are to take place by April 15, the letter states. Participation by servicemembers and their families is voluntary.

“I think it would be great for commanders to come out and take a look at things, and if there is a problem put a policy in place to get things fixed,” Lance Cpl. Warrens Remy of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, said Monday.

The purpose of the visits is to raise the Marine Corps’ awareness of living conditions and ensure servicemembers’ health and safety, identify maintenance or safety issues and ensure servicemembers and their families are aware of support processes and available programs, the letter stated.

“The center of gravity of our readiness is our Marines and their families — caring for them is fundamental to our ethos,” Neller wrote. “This commitment requires understanding of their living conditions.”

Neller said commanders will use the Marine Housing Outreach Program to accomplish their goal.

Marine officials on Okinawa did not respond to requests seeking details Monday.

However, similar initiatives at bases across the Pacific and Europe have meant site visits and town hall meetings in recent weeks where servicemembers and their families could ask commanders questions and describe the conditions where they live.

The series of initiatives was the result of congressional testimony Feb. 13 about military housing and reports by Reuters that found housing at many U.S. bases was run-down and unsafe.

“I expect commanders to know where their Marines and Sailors are living and to actively advocate on their behalf,” Neller wrote. “Our members and their families should know their leaders care for their well-being and are both ready and willing to help.”

Stars and Stripes correspondent James Bolinger contributed to this report.


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