Military

Two hundred military personnel relocated from San Antonio dorms as Air Force mold problem grows

Two hundred military personnel have been moved out of their dorms on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and the Air Force is preparing to relocate more troops after the discovery of mold in living areas, a top commander said Monday.

Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman said the personnel who were moved include troops assigned to Lackland and other who were there temporarily for technical training. Lackland is the home of Air Force basic training.

“The health and well-being of our airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians at JBSA are essential,” Lenderman, commander of the 502nd Air Base Wing, said in a statement. “Mold in living facilities is unacceptable. To residents who have voiced their concerns and brought attention to this much-needed call to action, I thank you.”

Airmen and their families had taken to Facebook to post comments, photos and videos of mold-ridden dorm rooms on Lackland and other installations for days. Many of the unnamed commenters said their commanders had done little or nothing about the problem. One wrote, “They need to condemn these dorms and rebuild new ones.”

Another posted: “Sad part is they don’t want you to go to social media, but won’t do anything about it until you do.”

Lenderman said that three-fourths of the dorms at Lackland used by “permanent-party” personnel — those assigned to the base — had been inspected and that mold was detected in 16 percent of rooms.

She also said more troops likely would be moved to new housing, saying: “We anticipate and are preparing to meet additional relocation requirements at Lackland.”

On ExpressNews.com: Inspections ordered at Lackland dorm

Lenderman’s wing, better-known as Joint Base San Antonio, oversees logistics for Lackland, Randolph AFB, Fort Sam Houston and Camps Bullis.

On Monday, the new head of the Air Education and Training Command, Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, visited Lackland and said he welcomed the efforts of Lenderman and the wing to resolve the situation.

“Without exception, our airmen deserve clean & safe facilities to live and work in,” Webb stated on AETC’s Facebook page.

Last week, Lenderman ordered an inspection of all dorms across the command. In her statement Monday, she said civil engineers were working on 28 rooms at Lackland “impacted by mold” and were expected to complete their work by Aug. 8.

Workers are “treating rooms with a regimen that includes a thorough bleaching process as well as utilizing dehumidifiers, removing and replacing carpet with vinyl planks, and installing ceiling fans,” Lenderman said. “They are also repainting walls to refresh the rooms. The remediation efforts for the whole building should be completed within two months. Similar remediation efforts are being prioritized for other dorms. Updates will be provided.”

Hours before Lenderman issued the statement, airmen had posted photos and highly critical messages on a Facebook page for enlisted personnel (amn/nco/snco) reporting mold outbreaks in living quarters at Camp Bullis, where troops go for field training. Those reports followed widespread posts on the same Facebook page about mold problems at Lackland. The Facebook page is not affiliated with the Air Force.

The posts described airmen arriving at dorm rooms at Camp Bullis to find mold in showers and near their beds. They complained that a commander forced them to awaken at 3 a.m. one morning to clean moldy walls and bathrooms.

An airman at Camp Bullis said on the Facebook page that “basically every inch of the dorms is covered in mold or mildew,” and that a “GI party,” a work detail, was held. The airmen had been awakened at 4 a.m. daily for inspections, the same commenter said.

“We were told if there was even a speck of mold found that we would have to take everything out of our room and scrub it all again until it was spotless,” the unnamed airman wrote. “I’m wondering why GI was canceled for Lackland but not for us. They aren’t offering masks. Only gloves.”

Another airman posted on Facebook: “I’m at Camp Bullis right now for Security Forces, and tonight we’re punished for our moldy rooms, which we literally just got here and have zero control over it. Our showers and rooms are absolutely terrible. One of my buddies has black mold right next to his bed.”

The airman asked the Facebook group to “bring light to Camp Bullis dorms.”

Lenderman said inspections at Camp Bullis began Monday. She said the wing’s leadership did not direct airmen at Camp Bullis to clean their dorms or hold GI parties, and she vowed that they would not be punished for posting complaints on Facebook.

She said personnel could inform her office of problems through the command’s “Feedback Fridays” program. Questions and concerns, the wing said, can be sent to RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil or the 502nd commander using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.”

On ExpressNews.com: S.A. general vows to battle mold at Lackland

Joint Base San Antonio said it has the largest dormitory program in the Air Force, with 77 dorms and a bed capacity of 27,000.

“There are many factors that affect our ability not only to maintain our dormitories but also to sustain them,” Lenderman said. She added that the Air Force would “correct these near-term issues” while also pushing ahead with a long-term “Dorm and Training Campus Improvement Plan to mitigate risk and support JBSA mission execution.”

sigc@express-news.net

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