Kiggans, Jacobs Introduce Bill to Investigate Conditions of Overseas Military Barracks

Feb 21, 2024
Uncategorized

Washington, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) and Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (CA-51) introduced the Foreign Overseas Residence Conditions Enhancement (FORCE) Act to direct the Department of Defense (DoD) to examine the conditions of outside continental U.S. (OCONUS) unaccompanied housing. This bipartisan legislation seeks to establish uniform housing standards within the DoD and to determine what improvements are needed in overseas housing for our military, so that Congress can best direct funding to ensure our servicemembers receive necessary quality of life improvements.

“At a time when our nation is facing increasing threats across the globe, Congress must act to ensure the quality of life and readiness of our servicemembers is prioritized. I’m proud to have Congresswoman Sara Jacobs join me in introducing the FORCE Act to ensure that Congress, and the Department of Defense, understand the importance of investing in both domestic and international military housing,” said Congresswoman Jen Kiggans. “Our bipartisan bill will provide much-needed oversight and encourage the DoD to house our men and women in uniform in the highest quality facilities, regardless of where they are serving.”

“We need to know the size and scale of poor-quality U.S. military housing – both across the country and worldwide – so we can get the necessary resources and funding to fix it,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “Unfortunately, our own reporting, which shows serious deficiencies in domestic housing that pose health and safety risks to our service members, fails to oversee the standards of housing abroad. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan FORCE Act with Congresswoman Jen Kiggans to survey the quality of Outside Continental United States (OCONUS) housing so we can address this gap in research and work to ensure that U.S. military housing is safe and high-quality everywhere.”

The FORCE Act is endorsed by the American Legion and Blue Star Families. 

“We support. The fullest accountability of all unaccompanied housing, both CONUS and OCONUS, is a quality of life imperative. Given that OCONUS unaccompanied housing was not included in the barracks GAO Report (23–107038), inspecting overseas barracks can better inform DOD of the status of unaccompanied housing,” said Eric Johnson, Legislative Associate with the American Legion.

“This is a key quality of life issue for our armed service members, who deserve to have safe and healthy living conditions to ensure that they can effectively do their jobs when they are abroad. This is key in retaining and recruiting our All-Volunteer Force.” Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families.

This legislation requires that the Department of Defense study and report the following to Congress:

  • Current conditions of overseas housing, and how those conditions relate to the livability standards of the respective service that operates the overseas facility.
  • An explanation of DoD’s process for determining, assessing, and responding to challenges to resident health and safety and quality of life in overseas barracks.
  • An assessment to determine the funding needs to improve the conditions and quality of life of residents in overseas barracks.
  • An assessment of how living conditions in overseas barracks affect force readiness, broken down by regional combatant commands such as the (INDOPACOM, AFRCOM, CENTCOM, etc.)

Background:

In September of 2023, the Government Accountability Office released a report (23-107038) outlining the conditions of barracks across 31 military installations within the United States. The results of this report found serious health and safety risks for servicemembers assigned to the barracks.

This includes sewage overflow, mold and mildew, and broken windows and locks. Additionally, this report found that the Department of Defense failed to establish DoD wide health standards in unaccompanied housing facilities, that some barracks failing to meet standards for privacy and configuration, and that a lack in oversight by the department in regard to military housing. Notably, this report failed to investigate the condition for overseas unaccompanied housing. 

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