WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Hazardous living conditions in military homes are now the focus of a Senate investigation.
Lawmakers spent eight months looking into safety concerns and released a report on Tuesday detailing their findings. They say they discovered mistreatment of military families and mismanagement by a company with a record of bad behavior.
Captain Samuel Choe used to live on Georgia’s Fort Gordon Army Base. When his daughter developed a painful skin condition, he says their doctor pointed to the mold in their home as the cause.
“My daughter’s experience is life altering and that it will haunt her, as well as us, for the rest of our lives,” Choe said.
Senators Jon Ossoff and Ron Johnson led the senate investigation into stories like Captain Choe’s
“These men and women should expect to live in conditions that will not damage the health and safety of themselves and their family,” Johnson, R-Wis., said.
They say they found a pattern of things like mold, asbestos and water leaks in military homes managed by the company Balfour Beatty.
Balfour Beatty already plead guilty to defrauding the government for housing repairs between 2013 and 2019.
Rachel Christian with Armed Forces Housing Advocates says the company is responsible for hurting families beyond the fraud in that case.
“But it is not just the government that suffered in this case. It’s the service members and it’s their families. They are the ones being forgotten, pushed aside and made sick by a company that continues to choose profits over people,” Christian said.
After hearing from families, lawmakers turned their attention to Balfour Beatty officials. Lawmakers grilled Richard Taylor, one of the company’s facility operators, this week.
“Do our people make mistakes? Yes, they make mistakes. There’s human error in every business,” Taylor said.
Taylor argues there have only been a handful of problems among the tens of thousands of military homes that Balfour Beatty manages.
“We understand where our shortcomings are and we take action,” Taylor said.
Military families who testified say that’s not true and are demanding change. Jana Wanner is a military spouse who is among those advocating for reform.
“Military families make sacrifices every day. A safe home should not be one of them,” Wanner said.
Sen. Ossoff, D-Ga., says he’s not sure what the next steps look like, but that uncovering the truth is an important piece of fixing the problems.
“The path to justice starts with getting the facts. And that’s what we’ve done for the last eight months,” Ossoff said.