Army Pushes Ahead on Quality of Life Improvements
Army housing remains the highest priority in a multifaceted effort to improve quality of life for soldiers and families, and initiatives to improve on-post housing have continued despite COVID-19-related restrictions, a senior Army leader said.
Under the oversight of a new Quality of Life Task Force, issues such as housing, health care, spouse employment, child care and household moves are being managed by subject-matter experts from Army headquarters and commands across the service.
Lt. Gen. Jason Evans, the Army’s first deputy chief of staff for installations, or G-9, is charged with directing the task force. The group was stood up in March and has a three-year charter.
“Improving quality of life is something that can't be done overnight, and it certainly has been a challenge during 2020 because of COVID-19,” Evans said. “We've worked hard to continue to provide critical quality of life resources for soldiers and families. At our Army installations, essential services have remained open.”
Privatized housing companies are being held accountable for maintenance and customer service by an additional 114 government employees who were hired to oversee inspections, and a Tenant Bill of Rights was implemented in February, Evans said.
The new employees, he said, “developed an application which is currently being piloted to allow tenants to track work orders for barracks and housing, as well as releasing results to [a] fall housing survey, which was initiated during November 2019.”
In the past two fiscal years, Evans said, the Army has invested $1.1 billion in sustainment for barracks.
Looking ahead, Evans said the Army plans to add 10 child development centers by fiscal 2025 and boost efforts to hire and retain qualified child care providers.
The Army also is working to get more governors on board with reciprocity for state licensure and portability for spouses with professional licenses who want to continue working after a permanent change-of-station move.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has “made it clear that we should aggressively pursue the Army’s priorities, but we are guided by a philosophy of ‘people first,’ and people are the Army’s greatest strength, and we must take care of them,” Evans said.