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Viral video spurs Army into action on Fort Polk's moldy bathrooms

WASHINGTON — Brown water jets from the shower head, filling the bathtub below. Green and black mold clings to the ceiling.

“This is disgusting. Fort Polk, United States Army ... They gave us this,” the narrator says.

These are the images from a video posted on Facebook that show unsanitary conditions at an Army barracks at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Comments below the video claim that soldiers have had to deal with contaminated water several times a week.

“Why are Soldiers living in these conditions [in] CONUS?,” the lead commenter asks, using shorthand for continental United States.

The video and comments were posted Dec. 5 on a Facebook page called U.S. Army W.T.F! Moments. The page is managed by Active, Guard, Reserve and Retired Soldiers whose ranks include enlisted and officers.

Stars and Stripes tried to contact the soldier who submitted the video through the group that posted it, but USAWTFM administrators said the soldier wanted to remain anonymous and not speak directly to media.

After an inquiry was made by Stars and Stripes, Fort Polk issued the following statement on Dec. 6:

“Fort Polk officials are aware of a video released to social media sites concerning conditions in a bathroom of one of the installation’s barracks rooms. The health and welfare of Fort Polk soldiers and families is of utmost concern to the command, and immediate steps have been taken to inspect barracks across the installation to ensure soldiers are living to standard.

“The barracks-wide inspection conducted Dec. 5 on Fort Polk resulted in the temporary move of three soldiers to different rooms. Fort Polk’s Directorate of Public Works will follow-up to ensure that barracks with discolored water have their water lines properly flushed and properly cleaned.”

Kimberly Reischling, a spokesperson for Fort Polk, later told Stars and Stripes that the cleaning had been carried out.

Reischling said that post officials were unaware of the discolored water in that particular barracks until they saw the Facebook video. She acknowledged that another barracks at the base was also affected by water contamination.

In response to questions about the mold problem seen in the video, Fort Polk issued the following statement:

“Where mild mold and mildew issues are present, soldiers are instructed to pick up a ‘mold-buster kit’ to clean it themselves. Other cases are cleaned by personnel from the Directorate of Public Works ... DPW will begin a more aggressive education campaign about the steps that should be taken to prevent mildew in damp environments.”

Reischling told Stars and Stripes that five barracks are currently being renovated at the base and another five will undergo renovation in the 2014-2015 time frame.

harper.jon@stripes.com
Twitter: @JHarperStripes


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