Military Tells Marines To Fix Their Own Dilapidated Barracks

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mhecaela J. Watts)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, have been instructed to take initiative on minor repairs to their barracks as the service wrestles with the best ways to address a military-wide problem with deteriorating housing facilities, Task and Purpose reported.

A video that surfaced online Tuesday described how Camp Pendleton Marines can ask for approval from barracks or facility managers to make small fixes to their rooms, including painting, patching holes and removing mold, and how to obtain the tools and supplies needed to do so. Marine Corps officials argued the program would afford service members more independence to make small improvements, Task and Purpose reported, while the service reviews results from a sweeping inspection of barracks conditions.

“Self-help requests allow Marines to not only fix minor damages in their rooms quickly, but also develop smaller scale home repair skills,” the video explains. (RELATED: ‘I Would’ve Gotten Fired’: Lawmakers Grill Defense Officials On Decrepit Military Barracks)

Tenants in the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) can utilize the program for free, 1st Lt. Taylor M. Dorsey, a spokeswoman for the base, told Task and Purpose. Under the program, Marines can replace their own light bulbs and change batteries in smoke detectors and door locking mechanisms among other things, and get instruction from BEQ personnel.

But Dorsey denied that the program was created to compensate for civilian contractor delays in filling maintenance requests.

A Government Accountability Office report released in September found some junior service members are living in overcrowded barracks with severe maintenance problems that fall well short of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) privacy and health standards, posing serious risk.

Then photos surfaced online showing squalid shower and laundry facilities at the Marine Corps’ infantry school in Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Times reported in January. The photos depicted dead rodents, possible mold, crumbling drywall and a swastika apparently graffitied on a locker. One Marine told the outlet that half of the 16 washing machines were broken.

“The self-help program is about empowering Marines to be able to use their own initiative to make a repair at no cost of their own if they deem it a better option than waiting to make a repair,” Maj. John Parry, a spokesman for Marine Corps Installations Command, told Task and Purpose. He said Marines should inform their chain of command to get the time off needed to do the repairs.

Self-help maintenance has been allowed for decades, but “the level of resources committed to self help programs are at a given installation commander’s discretion,” Parry told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.

Camp Pendleton’s program is more “robust” than those at other installations, he said.

“As you would let your organizational leadership know that you have an issue at home and need some time, Marine should also let their leadership know,” Parry told the DCNF. “This empowers their leadership to understand an issue a Marine may be having and apply resources, to include giving time back to Marines, accordingly.”

The Marine Corps ordered installation commanders to conduct “wall-to-wall” inspections of all barracks facilities in February amid increased anger from Congress and the public about the state of living quarters on military bases. The investigation wrapped up earlier in March.

Results from the investigation were not available as of Monday, but initial findings were “consistent with the sample of barracks taken” for the GAO report, Parry told Marine Corps Times.

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