Dear Housing People:
You seem to be in quite a pickle, because military spouses have found their voice. You thought you could contain the issues or cover them up with a quick coat of paint. You believed taking our Basic Allowance for Housing meant fixing things in the most basic ways which meant the cheapest ways and did nothing to keep us safe or secure on the most safe and secure installations in the world. Now all that is changing.
Leadership knows the truth. The politicians on both sides of the aisle, who can never agree on anything, agree on this. The American people see another group of greedy companies worried more about their bottom line than their customers. You are in the news. You are all over social media. You control none of the conversation. What you do next will define how military housing is run for decades. Like I said, times are changing.
Right now, around the country military leaders at the highest ranks are inspecting every home on every base. They are looking in every nook and cranny. If there is a molding so much as off center, they are going to discover it and have you pay to fix it. They are looking for safety and health hazards. They are holding townhall meetings your employees are no doubt attending and they are listening to the horror stories about mold and smells. They are taking pictures of the neglect. The truths are all over Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Nothing in this world is hidden anymore. Times are changing.
Personally, I’ve never experienced the atrocities I’ve seen displayed. I’m one of the lucky ones. I never saw mold. I never experienced moisture problems. My Soldier and I have lived on three military bases for a total of 7 years of our 18 years of service. After seeing the conditions my peers have posted, I feel blessed it hasn’t been more. But don’t think for a second that means I’m not just as angry as my fellow spouses that have had to watch as their children and families suffered while you made excuses.
However, I’m not one to complain without offering a solution and this morning it came to me. If you truly want to fix this, and make sure it never happens again there are two very simple things you can do.
1. Fix every problem and make our homes like new. Spend the money to make sure that whatever issues are there, never come back. And when they do, because issues always arise, promise to spend the money to fix things correctly the first time. Without fail, without question, without concern of whether your bottom line is going to be affected.
2. HIRE MILITARY SPOUSES!!! HIRE THEM FOR EVERY POSITION AT EVERY LEVEL WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION.
a. Hire a military spouse to run the leasing office
b. Hire military spouses to help new families integrate into their communities, and help families transition away from base with ease.
c. Hire and train spouses to fix maintenance issues.
d. Hire military spouses to inspect homes before families move in and once they move out.
e. Hire military spouses to clean the homes in between residents.
f. Hire military spouses as liaisons to your company and your contractors.
g. Hire military spouses in your corporate offices at the highest levels. With teleworking, the internet and working from home capabilities nothing is impossible for military spouses.
Yes, I know there are special circumstances with hiring military spouses, but any issue can be overcome. Hire spouses that will only be with you for a year or two. Hire spouses that can only work while the kids are in school. Hire spouses with children and then hire a spouse to watch those children too. Hire two part-time spouses when you really only want one full-time employee. If you want us to trust you, trust us to take care of your properties, because our real interest is in taking care of each other.
There is a push to find employment for military spouses. This would be a meaningful way to fulfill that push. As military housing companies you will constantly have new employees to help you take care of their peers. You will have a constant access to the best and brightest spouses who want to do something to help their other spouses, but also need to earn a living for their families. Yes, you might have pay to train them, but spouses who are trained in one location go on to work that training in others. And they teach others. You are staring at a win-win situation right in the face. Will you take it?
Times are changing. I have always believed being a military spouse is among the greatest honor of my life. And I love my fellow milspos. I will do whatever I can for them, their Soldiers and their families. A lot of us feel that way. We are hoping after all the scrutiny dies down, and you’ve fixed all the problems, you will feel that way too. Show us. Hire military spouses at every level. We won’t let you down.
Steven M. Schmitt
Mr. Army Wife