There's controversy at Fort Stewart as the US Army is speaking out about Reservists' medical issues. Reservists and National Guard members are complaining that they're being treated like second-rate citizens with the living conditions they're enduring while on medical hold status at Fort Stewart.
WTOC spent some time in Hinesville touring the facilities and speaking with both those in charge and the soldiers living in the medical hold barracks. Many Reservists on medical hold are in very minimal facilities, with cement floors, close quarters, and no plumbing or running water in the buildings where they're living.
"These facilities were designed for annual training for the National Guard, so they're fairly bare boned," explained Col. John Kidd.
That's what more than 600 Reserve and National Guard soldiers on medical hold are living in. We saw one of the nicer barracks. There's no running water, but it's air conditioned. More than two dozen soldiers live in that building alone. "We do the best we can with what we have," said Spec. Timothy Smith.
The latrine sits about 15 yards out the front door. Those aren't air conditioned and the toilets are leaking. But soldiers are making due. "I know on the other side of the post where there are more National Guard and Reservists, it's a challenge, they're facing challenges," said Spec. Smith, who was transferred from the other side of the post.
On that side of the post, there are no privacy dividers in the toilet area of the latrine.
PFC Mathew Connor has been there since he returned from Iraq in May. His biggest complaint is there's no air conditioning in the barracks. "It's hot," he said. "You pretty much have to sweat unless you buy your own fan." And sometimes, there's no heat. "At night, if the heater actually works, you get under a couple of covers you provide for yourself to stay warm."
The Army says it's working to make things better. "We've done a multitude of things from buying new mattresses...we've initiated about $3 million in contracts to implement facilities for these soldiers," said Col. Kidd.
We spoke with other soldiers who declined to to talk on camera about the living conditions for fear of retribution. Many stated they never dreamed they'd come back to these types of conditions.