Airmen Displaced At Lackland/Joint Base San Antonio Over Mold
Lackland AFB/Joint Base San Antonio have a severe mold problem that has seen airmen displaced from the barracks. They are not the only US military base that suffers from the problem, but it’s the one in the news now.
According to a source that has served on other military bases, many of the ones that were built during WWII often have mold issues. Lackland AFB was built in 1941, and Randolph Air Base was built in 1928. Joint Base San Antonio is comprised of Lackland, Randolph, Fort Sam Houston, and Martindale Army Airfield, which was added in 2010.
An article published in Stripes revealed that the problem of mold caused about 200 airmen to be displaced while the 502nd Civil Engineering Squadron used bleaching chemicals, ripped up carpet, put down vinyl planks and repainted some of the rooms. They are reportedly installing “ceiling fans” in the dorms as well — not a perfect substitute for air conditioning. Hope they realize that painting over mold simply gives a reprieve until it returns.
But mold isn’t the only issue with this story. It’s about the chain of command and what they did about the situation: they reportedly told airmen not to talk to the media and tell no one. So they were to “suffer in silence,” and hide the real cause of some airmen becoming sick. We received information from an airman on the base:
It wouldn’t be such a problem except that our leadership from NCO up are forcing us to hide our problems from higher command. Good people are getting hit with medical discharges because of expose to all kinds of mold in the dorms and there’s nothing they can do about it because our leadership doesn’t want people to know why they really getting sick. Its getting to a breaking point as our NCOs are taking liberty away from us to get rid of surface mold so the new squadron commander doesn’t see it on the first work day. It’s been ongoing since last year as well.
Not to mention that this has been an incident that has re surfaced numerous times and CE maintenance is already undermanned as is. Taking away liberty from airman on their Sunday to clean off the surface mold so higher leadership doesn’t see it on their walk through on the Monday following is unacceptable…”Source
The story also surfaced on a Facebook Air Force Forum page called Air Force amn/nco/snco, which got the attention of their commander, Brig Gen Laura Lenderman. But one person on the Forum page today stated that the local Gateway Inn was “cleared out overnight” to give space to airmen displaced with no notice and left many standing in line all night.
The article in Stripes stated that Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio Commander, has ordered inspections. Those are set to be completed on August 8. The full work of repairs will take about two months. There may be more airmen displaced, including to off base sites.
“We anticipate and are preparing to meet additional relocation requirements at Lackland. Base leadership is actively working a plan that includes relocating residents to other on-base facilities and, potentially, off-base… There are many factors that affect our ability not only to maintain our dormitories but also to sustain them. As we work to correct these near-term issues, we are also continuing to work our long-term 502 [Air Base Wing] Dorm and Training Campus Improvement Plan to mitigate risk and support JBSA mission execution.” Brig Gen Lenderman
Lenderman told Stripes that there were no “GI Parties” to do “non-routine cleanups.” Which may not be true, since the airmen were told not to say anything to the “higher ups.” And some posts on the Air Force Forum suggest there has been canceled leave to clean up the mess. (See featured photo provided to Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children).
Black mold, like that which is present at Joint Base Antonio, is considered “toxic.” The CDC noted:
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.CDC
Lenderman has made an effort to reach out to airmen experiencing issues with ongoing mold issues and how their complaints are addressed by giving them an email address: RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil using the subject line “FeedbackFridays.”
Will they utilize the supposedly “open door?” If their email addresses are traced back to individual airmen? We think that’s probably not going to happen unless some sort of protection against backlash is instituted.
Featured photo: provided. Is this a “GI Party” where airmen were tasked with the cleanup and told to “just clean it best you can?”