Army Secretary apologizes to military families living in dangerous housing conditions
The Pentagon – Secretary of the Army Mark Esper on Friday apologized to thousands of families living in dangerous conditions in military housing, which has long been maintained not by the military but by private contractors.
Families like that of Jana Wanner, who testified before Congress Wednesday.
“Mold was growing out of the wall of our shower,” Wanner said. “They told us, and this is a direct quote, let the mold just fall out.”
Other major problems: lead in the water, asbestos, leaking ceilings, roaches, mice and rats.
“I am infuriated by what I’m hearing today,” said Sen. Martha McSally. “This is disgusting.”
Esper said he wants to renegotiate contracts with property management companies to give tenants more power, including “a clear bill of rights for our families — for our soldiers and our families.”
“So they know what they can do what their rights are that they can bring to the chain of command if they feel that the contractors are not meeting their needs,” Esper said.
One change would hit those companies right where it hurts.
“If a family isn’t getting the service they want then I think they should have the ability to withhold their basic allowance for housing payments,” Esper said.
Sgt. Major of the Army Daniel Dailey worries contractors’ neglect could affect recruiting and mission success. If soldiers are worried about how their family is surviving in the U.S. with mold and rats, how can they do their job overseas?
“We need our soldiers focused on doing their job fighting and winning our nation’s wars,” Dailey said.
Wanner, whose family lives at Fort Meade in Maryland, is encouraged by the new focus on military housing conditions but worries if it will last.
“I don’t want the steam to be lost and I want to keep moving forward and I want that change made and I want families to be heard,” Wanner said.
Just four years ago, the Pentagon investigated military family housing and found “pervasive health and safety hazards” — but the conditions continued to fester. CBS News asked Esper if that might happen again, and he said no. This time, he vowed, “we’re going to get it right.”
Police: Mom charged with abuse tried to
have child kidnapped
RALEIGH, NC – A North Carolina woman already charged with child abuse is accused of trying to convince someone to abduct her daughter from her foster home and hide her in Florida until she turns 18.
The News & Observer reports 47-year-old Russell Jay Smith and 38-year-old Lindsey Michelle Smith were charged earlier this year with child abuse for inflicting “serious mental injury” on their pre-teen daughter for more than two years.
They were accused of putting her through “extreme isolation,” forcing her to remain standing for hours, forbidding her from speaking to her siblings and failing to provide her with adequate education.
Lindsey Smith is now charged with soliciting someone to commit a felony and felony obstruction of justice. She’s been ordered held without bail.
AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests
McLennan County Man for Possession of
AUSTIN, TX – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 59-year-old Eddie Dwayne Pratt, of Robinson, on three counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony.
Acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC), investigators from the attorney general’s office searched Pratt’s home, where they discovered images of child pornography.
They also confiscated multiple digital storage devices, which will be examined by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office.
During questioning, Pratt admitted to possessing child pornography.
Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
The Child Exploitation Unit proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.
If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC