Fort Hood continues to make progress renovating its barracks, and that trend will continue in the upcoming fiscal year, with approximately $100 million dedicated to barracks projects.
Brian Dosa, director of the installation’s Directorate of Public Works, said Friday that funding for a new barracks on East Range Road, supporting the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, will be secured once the new fiscal year budget is passed, enabling the installation to break ground on new construction in support of the post’s single Soldier population.
That project, when started, comes with a $32 million price tag, the DPW director said, noting that post will also receive $68 million to continue renovating existing barracks on the installation.
“The average age of Fort Hood’s barracks is nearly 50 years,” Dosa explained, “with a third built in the 1950s.”
Dosa said, currently, 20 of Fort Hood’s 99 barracks are under contract for renovation. All 20 are 1950s-era “rolling pin” barracks, so named due to their shape — rectangular with smaller areas on each end. Twenty-eight more barracks have been identified as needing renovation. Dosa said the installation’s renovation plan will cost approximately $470 million over the next six years to complete.
Renovations of five barracks in the future 36th Engineer Brigade footprint have been under renovation since July of 2018. The project is nearing its midway point, according to Andy Bury, resident engineer.
“At this point, all five buildings are under renovation,” he said. “I think our occupancy date is February 2021. That’s the date we’re trying to keep. If all goes well, we might finish prior to that.”
Bury said it is rewarding for him, personally, to be working on this renovation project.
“It’s always a good feeling when you’re taking something that was pretty dilapidated and turn it around,” he said, “and turn it into something I think people will really be comfortable in.”
Brave Rifles’ new barracks
It has been six months since Brave Rifles of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment redeployed to Fort Hood, with its single troopers occupying newly-renovated barracks in the 9200 block on the east side of the installation.
“We’ve had them since we got back from deployment,” Sgt. Robert Guilherme, from the 3rd Cav. Regt. Barracks Management Program, said. “These are the nicest barracks I’ve ever seen.”
Guilherme said that while many of the Soldiers appreciated the separate bedrooms linked by a common area, not having a bedroom door, for added privacy, was an issue.
“People were happy how nice it is — (like the) built-in stoves in the countertops,” he added, “but privacy is still the top complaint.”
But it’s a huge upgrade from sharing trailer space at a forward operating base in Afghanistan or Iraq.
“Oh, this is miles better,” Guilherme said with a laugh. “This is a resort compared to those places.”
Besides increased space and upgraded amenities, the renovated barracks tackle another more important issue; mold.
“One of the features that we built into the renovation of these barracks was modern heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment,” Dosa noted during a walk-through of a trooper’s room Friday morning. “We basically are cycling the air in through this building on a continuous basis, bringing fresh air in (and) making sure that the air in the rooms is conditioned, it’s healthy and it doesn’t produce mold.”
While the renovation efforts continue on the installation, DPW’s other focus is to ensure that new or newly-renovated structures are maintained to standard.
“We’re doing work,” Dosa said, “in 3rd Brigade (Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division) while they’re deployed to keep them in good condition. That’s very important, as well.”
Staying on top of maintenance issues in unaccompanied housing “keeps us pretty busy,” Dosa said, noting DPW handles upwards of 100 work orders from barracks daily.
While units provide DPW with work orders to address issues as they come up, DPW goes a step further with its area managers.
“The main thing is maintenance,” Johnny McCoy, DPW Barracks Program manager, said. “Our main goal is to walk in the barracks, that 10 percent, to see what we can find. Hands-on is always the best way to find out what’s actually going on in that barracks.”
At a cost of approximately $900,000, the renovation of the Fort Hood Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program headquarters building is complete. BOSS representatives are beginning to move back into their permanent home this week.
“This place is fantastic,” Spc. Zach Smiley, Fort Hood BOSS president, said. “It’s a lot more open area for Soldiers to come and play pool or ping pong. We’ll have computer labs. And we’re pretty excited about the gaming areas, too.”
The new gaming area will include 16 state-of-the-art gaming chairs, which will come in handy in October when the post is planning to host a grand opening event.
“We’re hoping to have an e-sports gaming tournament,” Brandi Crist, chief of Community Recreation for Fort Hood’s Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said. “We’re working on it with Army Entertainment now.”
Neicey Davis, Fort Hood BOSS advisor, has high hopes for the new headquarters.
“… that it will stay very busy for the single Soldiers, that’s my vision,” she said. “They’ll always have somewhere to go, no matter what. They can get out of the barracks, come over here, play the games, if they need to get on the computers, do some training. They have a home (here).”