A panel of officials and directorate leaders led by garrison commander Col. Thomas Macdonald answered questions Wednesday during the Facebook Town Hall.
Q: Why is it that the gate guards do not scan every identification card? A: They pick a random number of ID cards to scan each day.
Q: Ever since we started getting mock electric bills, my family has been over every month. We started becoming more conscience about this and have taken measures to reduce our electricity use. However, we still go over by at least $30 and we’re not sure why. Is there a program of sorts for help figuring out why we are constantly going over? A: Please contact your village manager or please e-mail Katie Grindle at KGrindle@mmhusa.com and she will be able to answer your question.
Q: I always see pictures of AIT and basic training Soldiers. What about pictures of permanent party Soldiers, range cadre, etc? Families miss them, too. A: A lot of the community is featured in The Bayonet, the post newspaper. You can view it online at www.thebayonet.com.
Q: I would like to know how the management of Villages of Benning and Fort Benning Command can justify the glaring differences between new housing such as Patton or McGraw Village and older housing such as Davis Village being designated for the same rank bands and also charging the same amount of rent. Why is Davis not classified as sub-standard when it is clearly inferior to the quality of homes in Patton and McGraw? Shouldn’t service members who live in Davis with their families be paying less in rent or getting additional BAH to compensate them for the amenities they are not getting in Davis? A: We have a renovation-scope for all existing neighborhoods. The timing and scope for renovations are specific to each village and unit style. Please check with your village manager for future plans. We are working to renovate homes as quickly as possible.
Q: So many of the wives/girlfriends, and parents seem to know where their Soldiers are getting stationed after graduation and when they will be deployed. Is there a place to find that info or does that come from our Soldier? He does know his duty station but I was really wondering on deployment. A: Only the Soldier knows of his pending assignment or possible deployment. The Soldier has access to this information through the Army Knowledge Online account.
Q: How are the new Soldiers doing so far since they have arrived last week? A: The new Soldiers arriving here at Fort Benning are making the adjustment from the Christmas break very nicely. As the Soldiers come back from break, they are reporting back to their units, continuing training and moving closer to graduation. The Soldiers that were not assigned to training units yet will be conducting in-processing at the reception station and will be assigned to a unit within the week.
Q: My only issue at this time is with child care. I have a 4-year-old daughter that needs before and after care. She goes to pre-K in the morning. I need to go to work and school and I would have to pay full day care for her even though she wouldn’t be there all day. The child care facility told me they only offer part day care in the mornings. It’s very hard to pay full price for child care. My husband is deploying next week and we are not with a unit at this post. A: We have many options including family child care homes. These are spouses that care for children in their homes under the umbrella of our CYSS programs. If you call parents central, 706-545-6811, I am sure we can help you find such a home.
Q: I have a question about the traffic enforcement. Today going to work I saw an MP driving well over 15 miles per hour through housing, no lights flashing and talking on the cell phone. How can you expect Soldiers to follow the Department of Defense regulations when even law enforcement doesn’t? A: Laws and regulations exempt emergency vehicle operators concerning cell phone use. If you feel an MP was speeding, you should take their plate number and call the Provost Marshall’s Office at 706-626-0943.
Q: What do we do when maintenance doesn’t respond in a reasonable amount of time? We had our heater go funny on us last Friday morning and no one showed up until (Tuesday) morning. That’s not an acceptable time frame. A: Emergency work orders have a response goal of one hour. If this goal is not being met or you have additional concerns please contact your village manager or our maintenance director, Pat Kenny, at PKenny@mmhusa.com.
Q: How can neighborhoods near a major road (Custer Road) get help with people speeding through our neighborhood to avoid the school back up traffic on Custer? My kids walk to school, and every morning I see cars speeding down my street to get around the traffic. I’ve called the MP’s several times and for a few days after I call they’ll pick up patrols, but then it slacks off. A: Specify street, day, and time and DES can program traffic enforcement resources as mission permits to target this area. Manning constraints and response to emergency incidents prohibits us from conducting speed enforcement at all times. However, the MP station may be contacted to report incidents of speeding. If available, MPs will be dispatched to locations specified by DES Operations in order to assess the area and potentially identify violators, who will be cited for speeding. Speed bumps, speed tables and posted speed limit signs fall under the purview of the Privatized Housing Management office for terrain within their leased areas and DPW for general use areas of the post.
Q: Just to get everything straight, once our Soldier is stationed and we are ready to move, will we be helped accordingly with movers, boxes, wrapping materials and such no matter where we are? A: Yes, if your move is authorized on official Permanent Change of Station orders, the government will move you.
Q: What should I do to get ready for basic training? I get shipped to Fort Benning on June 29th and I want to make sure I’m physically ready. A: You should get with your recruiter and work with him using a program that he has to help improve your Physical Readiness Training that links directly to the new Army Physical Readiness Training Program.
Q: There needs to be adequate housing for lower enlisted Soldiers. My family size needs a five bedroom and I have been waiting over a year and a half and still living in a four bedroom. A: We are currently assessing the five-bedroom needs and hope to provide more opportunities in the years to come. At this time, you can speak with the Custer Village Management team or the Leasing team (at the Welcome Center) to discuss potential solutions to your specific situation.
Q: I have a question. My husband is in AIT. My mom and his mom both wanted to know if they could go ahead and file us on their taxes. We just got married on Dec 23. He is 19 and I’m 20. A: This is a good question, but will require a longer conversation that will include personal information. Please call the Fort Benning Legal Assistance Office at 706-464-3281.
Q: I would like to know if there is any protocol in place to report power outages, especially in case of emergencies. While experiencing inclement weather Jan. 10, Lower Davis Hill lost power for about five hours. We called the MPs, who told us to call Flint Energy, who directed us to call the Emergency Work order number. When we called that number they were not very helpful and were not able to offer any information or updates on the problem. A: Yes, the best number to call is 706-545-2135. This is the Directorate of Public Works service order phone line and is answered 24 hours a day.
Q: Why aren’t there recreation centers in the older neighborhoods? They have them in the new neighborhoods. There needs to be something constructive for the kids to do. A: We have community centers in Patton, McGraw, Custer and one under construction in Indianhead Village. Our plan includes additional community centers in Davis-Bouton in addition to these.
Q: When Kelly Hill is shut down every morning due to PT there is a huge traffic delay in getting to work even when the guards allow people to start driving in. On top of that, all the Soldiers are trying to leave while workers are trying to get on. From the PX up by the 203rd warehouse it can take up to 45 minutes to get through traffic. Is there any way to prevent Kelly Hill from being locked down during PT hours so that workers can get into work? A: The commander of the 3rd HBCT has elected to close Kelley Hill during PT hours for the safety of his Soldiers.
Q: Why do some installations offer free child care to all spouses working out at the gym, but here it is only offered to deployed Soldiers families. A: We do provide free care for the spouses of deployed Soldiers. Some installations can use their mission dollars to provide free child care to all families at fitness centers, but we are not at liberty to do so. We are currently working on plans to expand child care services at Smith.
Q: After the Fort Hood tragedy and the recent Tucson Arizona tragedy, what type of safety measures is Fort Benning taking to keep Soldiers and family members safe? A: The Department of the Army has established a training program that all police and emergency services conduct annually. Q: The Custer Road speed limit is confusing. One way is 45 mph and the opposite direction in the same place is 35 mph. Can this be fixed to more clearly label the correct speed limit? A: The Directorate of Public Works will have our traffic safety engineer review your concern and will be in touch.
Q: What is the policy of PT in a residential neighborhood? I live on Vogel Avenue. On main post every morning there’s a company of Soldiers doing PT and waking up my 1-year-old. I even caught them doing combatives 50 feet from my bedroom window one morning! Is this normal practice? If so, we should be advised before signing a lease. A: Doing combatives in a residential area is not normal practice. Please call Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, the garrison command sergeant major at 706-545-1500 if you can identify the unit and we will make sure that we correct the situation.
Q: How does military spouse preference work? I was recently told to submit my husband’s orders to the offices at Building 6 and I did this in November. No one has contacted me to this day. I keep calling and leaving messages but the lady tells me to wait for the technician to call me back so that she can review my resume and also tells me to keep applying online. She says they are running behind, has anyone else experienced this? A: Please contact Blanche Robinson at 706-545-1203 and she will help you.
Q: Are there plans for more family entertainment at Fort Benning? For example Fort Jackson, S.C., built a water park on post. What are the future plans for Fort Benning Recreation? A: We just completed a family entertainment center, previously the old post bowling center, which is like a Fort Benning Chuck E Cheese with bowling. We also just opened a new dog park and family playground at Blue and French fields. We are looking at miniature golf and other ideas, which can be accessed at www.benningmwr.com.
Q: Are there any plans to remodel the library? A: Not currently, but it is in our long-range plans. In the interim, we work hard daily to improve our programs and services, including the new library extension at the Kelley Hill Recreation Center.
Q: A yield sign on Marne Road is not placed where everyone can see it. No one pays attention to it and I have had people honk their horn or almost slam into me when it is my right of way. Can we move this so it will be more noticeable so no accidents occur? A: If you have concerns regarding unsafe or confusing street signage, please contact the Directorate of Public Works, Kirk Ticknor, at Kirk.Ticknor@us.army.mil and he will address the concerns.
Q: On the subject of traffic enforcement, it does no good to call in any issues. I have made several calls to the MP’s and my housing office here in Patton, still people speed through the stop sign on my corner. There are a handful of residents who stop here. My son was almost hit
walking to the bus stop because someone ran the stop sign and I was told they would send out patrol at that time, I have yet to see one MP around during that time of the morning and this was well over a month ago. I have actually taken videos of people running this stop sign if you are interested in seeing them. A: Speeding is a concern, especially in our housing areas. There are preventive methods in place, but we realize these can not be a 100 percent solution. We encourage you to bring your videos to the MP station and we will take appropriate action.
Q: In Harmony Church, when and where can employees expect to have some fast food places to serve us? Many of us get a 30-minute lunch, and driving to Main Post just does not cut it for us during lunch hour traffic, and allow us to make it back to Harmony Church within our timeframe. A: Harmony Church will have a new mini mall with a Burger King, Charley’s, and Froots in May of 2012. Temporarily, we do have two mobile food trailers at the Harmony Church shoppette and three more planned this year.
Q: I have a concern. Our house is infested with little black ants and when they come out there are hundreds of them and my 1-year-old daughter woke up with them in her bed and had bites. I’ve called our village manager and they have sprayed several times but nothing is getting rid of them and I was told to buy bug killer and treat my house as needed. Is there anyone else I can contact? I don’t feel we should live like that and have no one help. A: Please contact Retonya Williams, our Residential Communities Initiative military liaison, at 706-545-3009 for assistance.
Q: Why are we now being charged overages for utilities when we already give our entire BAH for housing costs regardless of rank to cover all housing and utility costs. We’ve been told the utility checks are random so it doesn’t appear that we are paying for our actual overages but the average of everyone’s overages. How is that fair? A: There is a utility town hall meeting at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 13, at the Patton Village Center. We urge you to attend to discuss your questions. If you are unable to attend, please contact your village management team to discuss your question.
Q: Is there any plan to improve the Custer Road issue in the morning with kids from the opposite side of McGraw Village that have to be driven to Loyd School? Simply trying to go anywhere between 8 and 9 a.m. is crazy. A: We will have the Directorate of Public Works traffic safety engineer review your concern and we will be in touch.
Q: My son arrived last week. Does his 16 weeks and four days (including Airborne School and basic training) include the time he has spent in reception? How soon after he gets there do we get the information on family day and graduation? I am several states away and have to put in notice as far out in advance as I can at work. A: Your Soldier’s time could possibly be a little off. The one station unit training cycle is 14 Weeks. Your Soldier will be in-processing to the reception battalion, which will take anywhere between 3-7 days. Then he will ship to his training unit and begin his 14-week cycle template. Soldiers that are going to Airborne School will attend that training upon graduation. The Airborne course is three weeks. Depending on the amount of Soldiers that are waiting to go to the Airborne School, your Soldier could go straight to the school or have to wait a few days before he can attend the course. **Editor’s Note: Families will receive the dates and information for family day and OSUT graduation in a packet sent home to parents during training. You should receive the packet by the time your Soldier is halfway through the cycle.
Q: Whom do I talk with if I have concerns with family child care? A: Our MWR family care providers are trained to the same standard as our facility care providers and they are well supervised. Please contact an MWR team member at Parent Central at 706-545-2079and share your concerns.
Q: Why do families not have a choice of who shoots their homecomings? I was told by MWR that I am not allowed to shoot homecomings (through Operation Love Reunited or on my own) because there are photographers contracted through AAFES and MWR. A: Sounds like a situation we need to discuss. Please send your contact information to Bridgett.Siter@us.army.mil.
Q: What efforts are being made to lessen the strictness of clearing housing. I live in Patton and it seems everyone I know is being charged hundreds if not thousands of dollars to clear. Most of which are perfectly fine homes with normal wear and tear. When we PCS I will be in my home nearly four years and even though we keep our home very clean, I am terrified of the costs we’ll face when clearing due to the stringent rules of the new housing offices. I’ve worked in property management and know what normal wear and tear is and have been shocked by the amounts friends of mine have been charged. The houses are great, do not get me wrong — we’re very fortunate — but $1,400 to clear a house is outrageous! Also, can there be some mandate if you go with so and so vendor when clearing you can turn your keys in and leave? I know many posts offer this for their housing. A: We urge you to contact your village manager to schedule a pre-move out inspection in order to identify and possibly correct potential damages prior to your final move-out inspection. We do anticipate normal wear and tear and evaluate each circumstance on an individual basis.
Q: When an Army wife has a legal issue with another Army wife where there were significant monetary damages why won’t the Soldier’s command or JAG help with the problem? A: Personal disputes over property or other claims for damages are generally not matters that can be influenced or adjudicated by the chain of command. The military chain of command is responsible for maintaining good order and discipline within their units. Personal disputes, unless they affect order and discipline are not their responsibility. If a personal matter does affect good order and discipline, then the commander will direct the Soldier to resolve it or face some sort of military sanction. The commander will not get involved in the personal dispute.
Q: I work at the CTMC and every morning I see and encounter Soldiers in the dark running in and out of formation in the street! At other installations I have seen signs posted where one can and cannot run at any time of the day. These Soldiers, while wearing their proper reflective PT belt, are in danger of being hit. Granted the speed limit is 15 mph and the MP’s are heavily monitoring Indianhead Road, it seems as though there is a safety issue here. Are there designated areas where the Soldiers can run and the roads can be completely shut down for PT hours? A: Unfortunately, we are so dispersed in most areas (except Kelley Hill) that we can’t totally shut down streets for PT. However, we have posted run routes and our Operation Slow Down reduces speeds to 15 mph. Regulation requires drivers to slow to 10 mph when passing Soldiers in formation. If you see someone speeding around Soldiers or driving in such a way as to endanger them, please get the license number and report them to the Provost Marshall. We can take action to solve the problem.
Q: Parking is a major issue when trying to use the Harmony Church food trailers. Can this be fixed? A: The two existing food trailers will be relocated with the three new trailers to a better location with more parking.
Q: I have placed work orders for many things that need attention multiple times. How many calls to I need to make before someone fixes the problems? We apologize that you have experienced a delay in service. Please contact Denise Milton, a Residential Communities Initiative housing specialist, at 706-545-8119, or Pat Kenny, the Maintenance Director, at 706-685-3939.
Q: We need to have more transportation for our children to and from activities after school. I am not always able to run across post in order to pick up my kids after school. They are not able to participate because of this fact. Is there anything we can do? A: If your children are enrolled in School Age Services, FMWR does provide transportation before and after school. Please contact 706-545-1255. If your children are enrolled in Youth Services and attend Faith Middle School, transportation for after school activities through the Middle School and Teen Program is available. Please call 706-545-3070.
Q: Fort Benning is a beautiful post, the most beautiful I have seen anywhere. I realize traffic flow can be a problem and often requires adjustments to be made; however, the stick dividers being used are a true eyesore (such as near Riverside and near the Benning Cemetery. I hope that any changes made on post, whether due to traffic or construction, will be done with thoughts to aesthetics and community appearance. A: Thank you for your comment. These traffic sticks are temporary measures during Fort Benning’s transformation and will be removed when they are no longer needed. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Q: Why are villages not informed of break-ins and other criminal activities.? I know the military doesn’t like rumors spreading around, but when spouses talk about the neighbor of their friend being broken into, the story increases and is made a lot worse than it sounds. A: There are several issues that pertain to this question. We don’t want to compromise any ongoing investigation or sensationalize any type of criminal events. In certain circumstances, for example, a rash of break-ins in a specific neighborhood, or other threats, DES will inform affected residents and assist in setting up neighborhood watches and other measures to protect the area. If you are interested in setting up a neighborhood watch, please call DES at 706-545-2897.
Q: Regarding all the family activities on post, I am very happy that these are available but for lower enlisted Soldiers families the prices of these are too high for us to enjoy these things. Also, other locations offer free movie times that aren’t offered here. This should be looked at. A: We try to keep our prices competitive and affordable and we always pay attention to that. We do have free outdoor movies during the spring and fall, we offer discount cards at the Family Entertainment Center and have frequent family concerts. CYSS offers an incredible array of programs and activities at incredibly low prices. You’ll find more information about these at www.benningmwr.com.
Q: My husband and I married after he was stationed here and I moved following our marriage and not on PCS orders. Therefore I don’t qualify for spouse preference when applying for jobs, which I feel isn’t fair. I still moved here to be with my husband. Just because the Army didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t qualify. I have been to the employment office on post twice and both times I felt that since I didn’t qualify for preference they didn’t want to help me. I have a great resume. A: Even though you are not eligible for preference, you may still apply under other authorities if you are eligible. Call 706-545-4240 for assistance.
Q: What about more accountability for health care providers? It was hard to get in contact with my daughter’s health care provider. My wife had to make an appointment just to get her provider to fix an error on the referral that he put in. A: Please raise this issue with one of our patient representatives located near the main entrance to the hospital. We will work with you to resolve the issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again. You may also call 706-544-3895.
Q: At every other Army post we have been to you always hear at least Reveille and Taps play over the intercom systems. Here in Patton Village you do not hear them. Are these bugle calls played on Fort Benning? If they are, can we make the sound reach the Patton Village area? I have always taught my kids to stand at attention and place their hand over their heart like you are supposed to if you are not or have not been a service member. Here we never hear it so we can’t practice this courtesy due the Army. A: Bugle calls on post are only transmitted from headquarters buildings. Unfortunately, Patton Village is not close enough to the two Sand Hill brigade headquarters to be heard from your quarters. We will query residents and see if this is something that we can do in the future.
Q: My son will be leaving for Fort Benning on Jan. 25. His great grandmother is 93 years old and she’s not in the best of health. What if I need to contact him while he’s in boot camp regarding her passing? Who do I call? And what would happen with his training if he has to leave? A: If your Soldier’s loved one passes away while he’s in training, you would need to contact the Red Cross and work with them to send a Red Cross message to your Soldier. If he’s to be removed from training to attend the funeral, it would depend on where he is in relationship to his training whether or not he would be processed for graduation or moved to another unit to continue his training and then graduate.
Q: I have repeatedly called maintenance about my air conditioning unit. It freezes about four times a summer and twice during the winter. I keep getting told that my unit is old but no one has replaced it. What do I do? A: The work order response team is now located here at Fort Benning. You can contact them between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday to follow up on any outstanding work orders. Their office phone number is 706-685-3939. If you are unable to get resolution, please contact Denise Milton, a Residential Communities Initiative housing specialist, at 706-545-8119.
Q: Has anything been discussed on the amount of time it takes to get the required physical that employee’s have to take when obtaining a Civil Service job? There is occupational health in Soldiers plaza in which there is a two-part medical examination. The wait times for those appointments so that you can proceed with in-processing for the job are not user friendly at all. CAC Card appointments are the same way. A: The scheduling times timeframe for physicals was recently reduced down to approximately seven days from completion of part 1 to completion of part 2. Additional efficiencies are being studied. A new method for CAC processing is being piloted at Fort Lee. Realized efficiencies will be shared.
Q: We updated our Exceptional Family Member Program information almost two months ago but it still hasn’t been updated in the system or on my husbands ERB. I’ve tried contacting the EFMP manager at the hospital, but she can offer no real explanation as to why it’s taking so long. What can be done about this? A: If the EFMP liaison is unable to help, please contact the Patient Representative at 706-544-3895.
Q: Does Fort Benning have a single parent Soldier co-op group or collection of single parent Soldiers who can lean on each other when 24-hour duties or extended time details arise that prevents the single parent Soldier from being at home with the child (children)? I live on post with my 12-year-old son and there are times when I am unable to be home due to legitimate military responsibilities. If such a collection of other single parent Soldiers does not exist, is it possible for the FSR to organize and advertise such a group? A: We can help Family Readiness Groups establish a coop. Contact Child and Youth Services at 706-545-6811.
Q: When will the shoppette across from Patton Village start construction? The sign said it would be open this spring, but there has been no activity. A: Patton Village Shoppette will be opening in the fall of 2012. Construction starts this fall.
Q: Is there a plan for a cafeteria style when Building 4 opens? It used to have a mini cafeteria until Management decided to put Charley’s and Pizza Hut in. Let’s get real — we need variety. A: There are no plans for cafeteria style food. The Building 4 plan is for a Burger King, Froots, and coffee/pastry shop to open in May.
Q: My children where routed off post for the doctor because I was told there isn’t enough room for them to be seen at Martin Army Community Hospital. Since they are off post I am not able to get their sports physical on post. It cost me $50 to have it done off post since their doctor doesn’t do them. A: Please check with the Tricare Service Center. You can switch your enrollment back to MACH. Their number is 706-544-3461 or 706-544-1347. They are located in Building 9204 next to the hospital.
Q: How can I get the portrait of my Soldier that was taken of him with the American flag in the background? Who can I contact to order them if he will graduate AIT in February? A: Pertaining to your Soldier’s photo question, if you contact Pro Photo at 706-685-2222, they will be able to facilitate your request for an additional photo of your Soldier.
Q: Whom do we contact if we know a great band that would love to play for the Soldiers? A: Please e-mail the band information to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: We need a bigger hospital and more on post clinics for the people who live on post. When will this happen? A: The new hospital project is expected to be complete in late 2014 and should be operational in early 2015.
Q: My husband and I will PCS to Fort Benning in about three weeks. Are there any adult sports leagues available to spouses? A: You will enjoy our sports leagues and programs for adults. Visit www.benningmwr.com
Q: Whom do I complain to if a food establishment is very rude to customers? A: All of our contractors are monitored by MWR, so we need to hear from you when your experience is not top notch. Please call 706-545-5221 and discuss this with the business manager. We do not tolerate rude behavior.