More than 1,000 Fort Bragg soldiers have been living in barracks with mold problems, and the Army is scrambling to get them new places to live
- Over 1,100 soldiers have been living in mold-infested barracks at North Carolina's Fort Bragg.
- The US Army said it plans to relocate all soldiers at at least one facility by the end of September.
Soldiers at Fort Bragg — home to US Army elite airborne and special operations forces — have been living in barracks infested with mold that potentially puts their health at risk, and the Army is now trying to figure out where else they can live.
The North Carolina base is in the process of relocating over 1,100 soldiers from the Smoke Bomb Hill barracks, which were built in the mid-1970s, because it uncovered "substandard conditions" during an inspection earlier in August. However, some soldiers in other barracks have reported mold and said they weren't being moved.
Fort Bragg said the Smoke Hill Bomb barracks are not up to current heating, ventilation, and air conditioning standards. Air flow changes and repairs raised moisture levels, creating a "quality of life concern" for soldiers living in the barracks.
All soldiers are expected to be moved out of this living area by the end of September, Fort Bragg said. As of Friday, 120 soldiers have been relocated, Fort Bragg's Col. John Wilcox told reporters during a roundtable discussion.
Soldiers in other barracks have said that their facilities also have mold and have even provided photo evidence of the problems. Some of these soldiers have raised concerns that they will not getting the opportunity to move out, CBS News reported on Friday.
One soldier told the network it felt like a "punch to the gut" that not everyone would be relocated.
When asked about complaints concerning mold in barracks other than Smoke Bomb Hill, Army leaders at Fort Bragg said they have received around 40 work orders that identified problems across the campus. Leaders said they are working to assess the issues, and the goal is to move soldiers to a place that's just as good or better than where they currently are living.
Fort Bragg's Director of Public Works Aaron Brown told reporters that as of Friday, they are fielding over 20 work requests that have some possible issue with mold, which are considered to be high-priority issues.
Army leaders at Fort Bragg said that the soldiers who are relocating to other barracks aren't being medically treated for any mold-related complications. Lt. Col. Teresa Pearce, director of public health at Fort Bragg, told reporters that the base has "not had any health complaints or concerns" brought up in relation to the barracks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, burning eyes, and skin infections. People who have asthma or who are allergic to mold, the CDC says, could have severe reactions if exposed. Longer-term exposure can have more detrimental effects.
During a July inspection at Fort Bragg, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston — the Army's top enlisted leader — scolded leadership for failures at the base's barracks, Military.com reported earlier this month.
"Lots happening to make this happen," he tweeted on Wednesday in a response to a Fort Bragg statement on the barracks relocation project. "Moving 1200 Soldiers won't be quick, but it will be done right."
The Army has had to relocate soldiers in past years due to mold in Fort Bragg barracks. South Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, for instance, addressed this issue in a December 2021 letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, urging the Army to immediately address the conditions of the barracks and pump money into better maintaining them.
"Allowing soldiers to live in moldy and unsafe housing is a danger to country," he wrote, adding that he wants to "ensure the Army is effective in receiving and executing all available funding to modernize and replace substandard barracks by 2030."
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