The buildup of the U.S. military has been steady the past four years. It has benefited the M&M area due to the building of ships for the U.S. Navy at Marinette Marine Corp. We think a well-prepared military in all branches of service is crucial during a period of uncertainty that keeps circling the world.

We were dismayed, however, to read a report that military families are having “negative” experiences with U.S. base housing. The military family is the core of our strength and Americans would expect families to have adequate housing while living in base facilities.

A non-profit organization’s survey last year showed families living in military housing by private developers are reporting unsafe conditions at many housing installations across the country, according to VFW Magazine. The magazine reported the Military Family Advisor Network talked to 14,558 individuals who live or have lived within the past three years in prioritized housing. The organization found that more than 55% of respondents had “negative” or “very negative” experience with their property’s management.

Families of enlisted service members made up about 75% of the respondents and were concentrated in California, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Hawaii. It’s possible that some military families from the M&M area were stationed at bases in these states where the inadequate housing was reportedly located.

Some of the issues reported in the survey included problems with maintenance repairs and structural concerns of the homes, as well as mold and filth being present. Many survey participants, according to VFW Magazine, cited concerns with the poor quality of materials used in their homes, as well as plumbing and leaking issues.

The Military Family Advisory Network reportedly interviewed 40 of the respondents. Some of the concerns families had included the amount of basic allowance the military provides for housing, and lack of options outside of military housing.

Furthermore, the respondents said their concerns have gone ignored by housing management and in some cases, families have had to threaten legal action in order for a company to act on complaints.

A few months ago, military families attended a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the military prioritized housing. Officials from the Defense Department and service chiefs were present at the hearing. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy testified that the Army is responsible for providing quality housing to the service’s families.

“We must fix the current housing crisis using a house-to-house approach,” said McCarthy. “We must also fix the governance model and address underlying issues to ensure systematic change.”

It didn’t take long for the Senate to act. On Dec. 20, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a so-called “tenant’s bill of rights” for base housing residents. The law puts base and regional commanders in charge of settling disputes between tenants and landlords.

We’re glad to see the Senate hearing brought results to the nagging problem. We commend the Military Family Advisory Network for conducting the survey that brought the problem to light, and the VFW Magazine for publishing the story.

Military families deserve better treatment from inept and greedy landlords. Like the family home in civilian life, the family home at a military base is the fundamental component for good morale among the men and women serving our country.