Brigade-level commands, partnered with each of the 12 family housing areas, briefed the community and the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general at a quarterly housing town hall event at Howze Auditorium Aug. 29.
Hosted by Lt. Gen. Pat White and Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, the III Corps and Fort Hood command team, the format of the event was altered to allow brigade-level commands to update the status within their partnered housing communities.
White opened the event, noting he would be departing the Great Place in less than a week to deploy to command the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, but that the efforts to rectify issues within Fort Hood’s housing areas would continue with the help an oversight of an engaged chain-of-command.
“Some of these issues, we have made progress on,” White said, “but some of them, we’re up against a brick wall, to be honest with you, and we’ll keep pounding away at that brick wall to try to solve that problem.”
The general was followed by Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Jason Wesbrock, who reviewed the progress made since the first series of four town halls held in February. Among the issues resolved was the implementation of a Relocation and Reimbursement Protocol by Lendlease, which spells out how families displaced by mold or other maintenance issues are reimbursed for incidental expenditures. Hard copies of the Lendlease document were available for attendees to pick up in the back of the auditorium.
Wesbrock also spoke of the change to move-in inspections, which now allow five business days to complete a move-in inspection sheet. Soldiers in pay grades E-5 and below are now assisted in the process by Community Life Noncommissioned Officers. The garrison commander introduced Sgt. Maj. Harold Cole Jr., who heads up the CLNCO program as the Fort Hood Housing sergeant major.
Col. Deitra Trotter, commander of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, was one of the senior officers to discuss their partnered housing areas. Trotter’s command team oversees Montague Village on West Fort Hood. She said it’s important for Soldiers and their families to alert their chain-of-command early on when any issue arises.
“They (Soldiers) are used to saying ‘I can do this myself,’” Trotter said. “A lot of times, their first instinct is to not reach out to the chain-of-command, or not to tell somebody else. They want to handle it themselves, so we don’t always find out about it until they’ve reached the point of crisis. That’s what we’re really trying to change.”
Trotter said she can empathize with families who have been displaced from their homes due to mold or other maintenance issues, noting that she, too, resides on the installation. While some issues may take longer to remedy, the colonel said she, too, is committed to tackling those issues.
“If I can be of advocacy, a voice for those service members, that’s absolutely the right thing to do,” she said. “We absolutely should be involved and part of the solution.”
Following short briefings from each Fort Hood housing area, the floor was opened up to questions and comments. Several residents, still displaced due to mold in their quarters, rose to discuss their individual on-going issues and were invited to meet directly with the brigade command teams of the unit to which the Soldier is assigned overseeing at the conclusion of the event.
Pfc. Jaron Warner, a finance clerk with the 15th Management Sustainment Unit, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is a resident of Comanche III with his wife, Rachel, and their three children. He said he did not attend any of the five previous town hall events, but came to this one at the urging of his unit.
“In February, they did a walk-through of my house,” Warner said. “They found a little bit of mold, but it was able to be fixed within a week. Once it was fixed, I haven’t had any real issues since then.”
Warner believes the town hall events serve a useful purpose, but even more so is an engaged chain-of-command.
“I think that now that the command is more active,” he said, “it’s keeping them (the housing partner) more accountable.”
In his closing remarks, the commanding general reaffirmed his commitment to reaching and maintaining standards.
“I’m the new commander here,” White said. “I’ve been at this for 60 days, but I own this and we’re going to get after it.”
The next quarterly Fort Hood town hall event is set for 9 a.m. Nov. 6 at Howze Auditorium.