After the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report last September that detailed the poor conditions soldiers and sailors have been required to live in while serving the country, the US Navy has committed to expending $969 million on improvement projects through the year 2029.
The report listed 31 recommendations to improve barrack and facility conditions, which were found to have faulty sewage, bed bugs, mold, and other potential hazards. Among those suggestions was a call for the Navy to conduct hands-on assessments when proposing budgetary allowances for facility maintenance.
According to Military.com, Destiny Sibert, spokesperson for the Navy’s Installation Command, confirmed that financial oversight was a focus regarding the improvements.
“We are working toward determining allocation for the additional funds in order to close the gap to achieve 100% sustainment, with a focus on the areas that will have the greatest impact for sailors,” Sibert said.
Sibert also reported that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti has committed to fully funding the Navy’s unaccompanied housing and the morale, welfare, and recreation gym sustainment budget by October. While the plans weren’t detailed, there are reportedly eight military construction projects as well as an additional funding allotment of $718 million for barracks improvements. Further plans to include future improvements to child development centers are being discussed.
The Department of Defense outlines acceptable standards for military housing by personnel rank. According to the manual, a sailor with the rank of Petty Officer Third Class or below should be provided with a private bedroom and a minimum of 90 square feet, a kitchenette, and a shared bathroom if quarters do not provide a living room. If a living room is present, the same enlisted personnel would be provided with a shared bedroom, a minimum of 72 square feet, and a full kitchen.
The report issued by the GAO found that at least 5,000 service members were living in quarters that did not meet these standards.
James Honea, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, issued a statement before the House Armed Forces Committee Quality of Life Panel in January 2024, outlining several key points of improvement. Among them, housing, medical care, childcare, spousal employment opportunities, and pay and compensation were addressed.
Honea stressed the importance of prioritizing the needs of Navy service members, stating, “Investing in the quality of life for our Sailors and their families today will pay great dividends as we look to recruit the best of our Nation’s talent, develop them into world-class warfighters, and retain them while remaining the most lethal and combat-ready maritime force in the world. In order to do this, we must invest in the quality of life of our Sailors’ and their families.”