The Honorable Mrs. Phyllis L. Bayer, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and the environment, met with military spouses to discuss privatized housing and restoration efforts on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb. 15.
Bayer traveled to MCB Camp Lejeune after hearing testimonies from military spouses during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Joint Subcommittee on Personnel and Readiness and Management Support hearing on Military Housing Privatization Initiative in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13.
Bayer, accompanied by Lt. Gen. Charles G. Chiarotti, deputy commandant, Installations and Logistics, and Brig. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations East-MCB Camp Lejeune, met with a group of military spouses who live in privatized housing on Camp Lejeune to discuss housing and restoration efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence last September.
“I do believe that Camp Lejeune has stronger and bigger challenges because of Hurricane Florence,” Bayer said to the spouses. “It takes so long to recover from hurricanes, so we appreciate your patience and service as Marine wives.”
Hurricane Florence impacted installations on the East Coast with periods of strong winds, heavy rains, flooding of urban and low lying areas, flash floods and coastal storm surges when it made landfall. The storm dropped more than 35 inches of rain as it moved across North Carolina at speeds sometimes as slow as two miles per hour.
“We want to essentially do some focus groups and to listen to the concerns of military spouses on Camp Lejeune,” Watson said. “Also to tour some of the storm damaged houses on base.”
Bayer thanked the spouses for coming to the meeting on such short notice. She stated that it was important for her to respond quickly after the hearing that took place in Washington, D.C. The three leaders listened and acknowledged the concerns of the military spouses present at the meeting.
Bayer toured residential areas on Camp Lejeune to assess ongoing restoration efforts in the communities.
“This is all new,” Bayer said. “Let us work with these issues and let us get back to you.”
Rosie Sonnier, a military spouse and nine-year resident of Camp Lejeune, has a son with special needs. She stated the only reason they live on base is because the Camp Lejeune district schools have excellent special education services. Being invested in the community, Sonnier previously inquired with Marine Corps leadership about her concerns with housing. Unfortunately, according to Sonnier, they seemed limited on what they can do to intervene with housing issues.
“Our Marines deserve better and our families deserve better,” Sonnier said. “One thing that I firmly believe is that family readiness is mission readiness.”