Editor, The U.S. government has cut back troop strength to World War I levels, which means there should be enough on-post housing for all 3rd Infantry Division troops to live on Fort Stewart. Commanders need to make it mandatory for all their troops to live on post when on-post housing is available.
This would save the U.S. Army and the U.S. government and federal taxpayers money, because those military people who live off post get what is called a basic housing allowance that is based on the housing-rental and home-ownership costs in Liberty County.
An E1 with dependents gets a BHA of $1,134 a month, according to www.defensetravel.dod.mil. An E1 without dependents gets $969, and that is not even their regular pay, which they get before BHA is added in.
And every time they get a BHA increase, the landlords and real-estate companies raise the rent or the cost of buying a house, which will mean a raise in the BHA again the following year.
There also is a lot of criminal activity in Hinesville and Liberty County. If the military were living on Fort Stewart in government quarters, they would not become victims of crime. Fort Stewart has more control of criminal activity on post. There also is a lot of drug trafficking, illegal gambling and prostitution going on. Some of this crime is happening right in our own backyards. And the service members who live off post are at higher risk of identity theft because their mail may be stolen from a locked box that someone with a screwdriver pried open.
Furthermore, military members could be living next door to a terrorist or a criminal. Law enforcement is lacking in Hinesville and Liberty County. On Fort Stewart, however, there are a lot of law-enforcement officers and neighborhood-watch program participants looking out for each other.
As you can see, making military members and their families live on post when there is enough family housing and barracks rooms would save the U.S. government money. It also would keep our service members from becoming crime victims in Liberty County.
I am a retired U.S. Army and Vietnam veteran and when I was in the military, I liked living on post because military members look out for each other.
— Robert J. Wetmore