U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop visits Fort Benning - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop visits Fort Benning

 By Mackenzie Patterson - email

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) -  A United States Representative is taking new ideas back to Capitol Hill after hearing concerns from Fort Benning soldiers and their families.  Representative Sanford Bishop was at Fort Benning for a town hall style meeting.  Soldiers and their families were at the meeting to present their concerns such as budget cuts, healthcare benefits, and Veterans' benefits to Bishop.  However, the most popular topic was the lack of on post housing.  

Captain Sam Casella explained to News Leader Nine how he and his family experienced the lack of housing on Fort Benning. 

"We moved out here for 7 months.  So, if there's an 8 month wait list, we are not ever going to be housed on post," said Casella.

 He, his wife, and their two young kids were forced to live in lodging with only one bedroom until he got word that a home became available.

 Bishop listened to soldiers and their families voice their concerns over the lack of housing on base.  People said living off base is an option, but the commute would be stealing time away from their families.

"People are looking at these commutes, they're looking at living off post, and you are just looking at losing, losing, losing," said Casella

Casella also explained one of the main reasons he wants to live on post is for the schools.  One of his sons is in kindergarten, and he said moving to an on base school makes the transition easier.

"They have the same curriculum so he was able to just move into the class and continue to learn to read and do math," said Casella.

However, current regulations prevent children living off base from attending schools on Fort Benning.  Bishop said these restrictions are unacceptable.  He said families may not be able to live on base but that should not keep them from the same amenities on base housing provides.  He said children of soldiers should be able to attend schools on base.  However, Bishop explained the reality of the situation is a lack of money.

"We don't have enough funds in order to have home post housing for every member of Fort Benning," said Bishop.

Therefore, soldiers and their families will have to turn to surrounding communities for housing.  He agreed with the soldiers that there needs to be more efficiency concerning reassignment and moves.  Now, soldiers cannot be put on a wait list for on post housing for their new base assignment without moving out of their current housing.  Bishop said there must be an improvement to this process.

 "The Army ought to be able to plan ahead for your arrival," said Bishop.

Bishop said he is grateful for the soldiers' and their families' willingness to give their input.  He explained meetings like these help him to understand even more what the public needs.

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