Army Barracks Conditions: Soldier Gets Ant Colony Roommate at JBLM



For decades, the American military’s barracks have been essential to the success of their operations. They provide soldiers with comfortable and safe accommodations so they can perform their duties with the utmost efficiency. However, a recent social media post highlighted an existing problem in some facilities: unacceptable Army barracks conditions.

The United States Army should be providing soldiers with habitable living quarters, but the conditions of the barracks at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State paint a different picture. One soldier stationed at JBLM was appalled to find a massive ant colony living in his room when he moved in, and according to him, the installation did not clean the room before issuing it to the soldier (r/Army 2023). We all know that the United States has invested heavily in the military. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Army operates more than 500,000 buildings and other structures on its bases in the United States and other countries (Congressional Budget Office 2022). The amount of money spent on maintaining them is considerable, yet some military facilities have been neglected or not kept up to the Army’s standards. Soldiers continue to live in various barracks environments ranging from healthy and comfortable to unacceptable.


Soldiers need suitable living quarters, but the conditions of the barracks at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State paint a different picture. One soldier stationed at JBLM was appalled to find a massive ant colony living in his room when he moved in, and according to him, before deleting his Reddit account, the installation Directorate of Public Works (DPW) was made aware of the problem, but no resolution is provided as of publishing date. We all know that the United States has invested heavily in the military. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the amount of money spent on maintaining various buildings in the Army is considerable, yet the Army continues to neglect some facilities. This recent example only highlights the level of competency of those that approved the barracks project, the builders, and those responsible for maintaining it. There would be quick remediation for anyone living in the city. It is hard to believe this is an isolated incident. And considering the soldier deleted their account indicates either the chain of command caught wind, or the soldier did not want the visibility due to the chain of command. Living in an environment far from healthy and comfortable is unacceptable. Still, the Army allows the barracks conditions to continue to deteriorate or replaces them with expensive fly-by-night solutions that will not withstand the test of time.

The State of Army Barracks

The state of army barracks is often an overlooked issue. Unbeknownst to most, army barracks are not always living quarters of the highest standard. With diminished budgets and limited resources, the maintenance department often neglects the condition of army barracks. The recent Joint Base Lewis McChord incident proved how dire the situation can be. Not only was this a startling health hazard, but it also called into question the quality of Army barracks. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Insect infestation is a growing problem in Army barracks across the nation. Soldiers and staff at Fort Moore have complained of leaking roofs and gnats in buildings only ten years old. Soldiers at Fort Cavazos also experience maintenance issues. Poorly built, hard-to-maintain facilities, inadequate pest control, and improper cleaning are all to blame. Senior leaders need to do more to ensure that Army barracks are habitable. The health of our soldiers should be the top priority of any barracks or military installation.

Fortunately, many military installations are taking steps to improve the state of Army barracks. The Army began tightening cleaning procedures and pest control measures. Additionally, there are various methods to call in work orders which Installation Command (IMCOM) implemented across the country. While this is encouraging, there is still much work for the Army to do to ensure our soldiers live in safe and healthy conditions. The military’s responsible for ensuring that our soldiers live in proper conditions. Soldiers should not worry about insect infestations, mold, or other hazardous living conditions. We live in a time when military service is not the only option, and all services face a recruiting deficit. However, thankfully there are young men and women still committed to defending our country, and they deserve to be provided with adequate living quarters. The state of Army barracks conditions is a critical issue and should be taken seriously. Our duty as a nation is to ensure that our soldiers live in safe and healthy conditions. We owe it to them to ensure that their barracks are appropriately maintained and that their living quarters are clean and comfortable.

Army Barracks Conditions Soldier Air Conditioner Mold

Unsanitary Living Conditions in U.S. Military Bases

The deplorable living situations within U.S. military bases can shock new and veteran soldiers. U.S. military bases have been plagued with reports of substandard living conditions for years. In 2018, an investigation by the Government Accountability Office uncovered substantial problems with military family housing, including mold, lead, and other health hazards. In addition, soldiers on active duty have reported issues such as overcrowding, leaky pipes, and faulty wiring in their living quarters. Experts note that the unsanitary living conditions at U.S. military bases present various health risks to those living in the barracks. In addition to the threat of illness posed by ant colonies, mold, and mildew can lead to respiratory problems and other health concerns.

Furthermore, faulty wiring, leaky pipes, and other issues can present a fire hazard. The Department of Defense has responded to these reports of unacceptable living conditions by extensively reviewing military family housing. The DOD has also expressed its commitment to providing a safe and healthy living environment for those who serve. However, the soldier who discovered the ant colony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord expressed his frustration with the slow response from the military. Unsanitary living conditions on U.S. military bases are a severe issue that senior leaders cannot ignore. Despite the Department of Defense’s commitment to improving living conditions, soldiers and families still live in dangerous and unhealthy conditions. The military must take swift action to improve these living conditions so that those serving the country can live safely and comfortably.

The Impact of Poor Barrack Conditions on Mental and Physical Health

Soldiers’ living conditions in many army barracks are often cramped, outdated, and in some cases, completely unsuitable. Much of the focus in the news has been on the gross neglect of the soldiers’ living quarters, but it’s important to note the potential impact of such substandard conditions on the mental and physical health of these brave men and women. Poor living conditions in army barracks can lead to various physical and psychological issues. Soldiers who are not adequately housed are more likely to suffer from multiple physical illnesses due to exposure to mold, mildew, and other allergens, as well as poor ventilation. Poor living conditions can also lead to mental and emotional issues, including depression and anxiety. Living in substandard conditions can also lead to decreased morale and productivity. Without adequate living conditions, soldiers are more likely to feel unsatisfied with their job, leading to reduced performance and increased chances of burnout. Not only can this hurt the soldier’s performance, but it can also harm the unit as a whole. It’s essential to recognize that the physical state of a soldier’s living quarters can positively impact their mental and physical health. Military leaders must take all necessary steps to ensure that their troops are adequately housed and to address any issues of neglect or discomfort. By providing quality housing to soldiers, military leaders can help improve morale and productivity and ultimately help ensure the overall health and well-being of the troops.

What is the Impact of Poor Barrack Conditions on Army Retention?

Poor barrack conditions can significantly impact the retention of single soldiers and ultimately affect their overall living standards and quality of life. The conditions in which soldiers reside play a crucial role in their satisfaction and decision to continue serving in the Army. When barracks are poorly maintained, with issues such as inadequate heating or cooling, malfunctioning plumbing, or lack of cleanliness, it can create a sense of discomfort and frustration among soldiers. Lackluster living conditions, in turn, can lead to decreased morale and a higher likelihood of soldiers seeking alternative living arrangements or even leaving the Army altogether. Furthermore, poor barrack conditions can also negatively affect soldiers’ mental and physical well-being, leading to increased stress levels and potential health problems. Therefore, military authorities must prioritize and invest in improving barrack conditions to ensure the retention and well-being of single soldiers.

How Can You Improve the Quality of Life in Army Barracks?

The quality of life in army barracks is often the last thing on a new soldier’s mind, as they face the stresses of leaving friends and family, a new environment, and potentially the risks and dangers of a dangerous profession, all in the name of serving their country. Unfortunately, the physical conditions of some army barracks have left soldiers struggling with subpar living arrangements. While the example at JBLM might be rare, it reflects a broader issue: barracks conditions for many soldiers are below standards, leading to a low quality of life. The military needs to take action to improve the quality of life in army barracks, and there are several steps they can take. For starters, they can increase funding for barracks maintenance and upgrade the quality of their materials. These improvements include adding more insulation and fire-proofing to the rooms, better ventilation, and region-appropriate air conditioning. It also entails ensuring that rooms are bug-proof and have the necessary safety features. The military also needs to consider the barracks’ environment as a benefit, as this can significantly affect soldiers’ quality of life and retention. For instance, they could improve the quality of the furniture and bedding and add recreational facilities like pools or gyms.

Additionally, they should ensure that the barracks are kept clean and free of pests. Finally, the military needs to provide better access to basic amenities that soldiers need to enjoy their time in the barracks. For example, in the mid-2000s, Wi-Fi was still an optional utility. Today, Gen-Z considers Wi-Fi necessary and various entertainment options like music, movies, or gaming. With the right improvements, the military can ensure soldiers have a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable living environment. By upgrading the barracks and making them modern and livable, the military can ensure that soldiers can better focus on their service.

Possible Solutions for Improving Conditions in the Barracks

Improving, Solutions, Quality of Life Since the headline of this blog post is “Shocking Army Barracks Conditions: Soldier Discovers Ant Colony in Joint Base Lewis McChord Room,” it’s clear that conditions in the barracks are far from satisfactory. For soldiers to be able to focus on their duties and serve their country with pride, leaders must improve the quality of life in the barracks. While there is no single solution to the problem, several possible ways exist to make the barracks more habitable for soldiers. First, leaders must give better attention to the cleanliness of the barracks. Maintenance staff should check for cleanliness regularly, and any damages should be reported as soon as possible. In addition, maintenance should use eco-friendly products to ensure the barracks are free of pests or insects. Another way to improve barracks conditions is to provide more amenities. Soldiers should be able to access recreational facilities like gyms, libraries, and other recreational activities. This would also reduce the chances of soldiers encountering pests and improve morale by providing an escape from the often-monotonous day-to-day life in the barracks. Finally, squad and platoon leadership should communicate better between the soldiers and the administration. This would allow soldiers to voice their concerns, leading to quicker resolution of any issues.

Furthermore, soldiers should be given more responsibility in making decisions about the barracks, as this would give them a sense of ownership and empower them to take ownership of their well-being. In conclusion, improving conditions in the barracks is a multi-faceted process that requires attention to different aspects ranging from cleanliness to morale. Solutions such as better maintenance, more amenities, and better communication between the administration and soldiers can improve the barracks’ quality of life.

What Can You Do to Help Improve Army Barrack Conditions?

Improve, Support, Contribute Improving military barracks conditions is an issue that touches many lives in the U.S. Armed Forces. Military personnel are often required to live in less-than-optimal conditions for long periods, and these conditions can significantly impact their mental and physical health. With a little bit of effort, there are several ways you can help improve the conditions in which U.S. military personnel live.

  • Document everything: identify and annotate every deficiency found in every nook and cranny of your building, no matter how small. Typically, small things like a cracked tile lead to water retention, loose grout, and more loose tiles and mold.
  • Conduct a pre-inspection: the ant issue only highlights that the Army’s are overworked, overtasked, and distracted by other duties to be the Jack or Jill-of-all-trades. After the last soldier moves out, DPW should conduct a thorough walkthrough and repair.
  • Conduct a joint walkthrough: just like off-post, a senior individual should conduct a walkthrough with the soldier. An upgrade would be to treat the soldier as a customer, providing a list of the amenities, do’s, and don’ts. Some installations fail to comprehend that many new soldiers are coming from civilian life with Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in between. They do not know how to live independently as a responsible young adult. Having them sign for furniture and keys and leaving them to their devices is how problems start.
  • Include barracks issues as part of the Command and Staff: one way to keep leadership aware and engaged is to, unfortunately, add one more slide to the brief. But, this is an important issue and serves as a vehicle to help command teams make decisions and not hear about problems after they appear on social media.
  • Write to your Senator, Representative, and the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services: politicians are great at throwing money at problems but not monitoring if there are effective solutions. For example, one installation in the Southeast built new barracks with an HVAC system geared for a dry climate leading to water leaks and repeated failure. No one thought to look at the bill of materials or the design. Additionally, there was a lack of quality assurance to ensure the Army does not waste good money on bad contracts. This is an example of a rush to failure. And years later, constant repairs continue to be made.


Whether you are a new soldier making your first move onto an installation, a squad leader, or part of a command team, making sound decisions now and working with government and military officials will help bring awareness to Army barrack conditions. Every little bit helps when it comes to improving the conditions in which our military personnel live.

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