When Sgt. 1st Class Mirna Velez De Mansilla brought up an issue of concern for her Soldiers at the quarterly Army Barracks Management Program meeting for the Baumholder Military Community Oct. 25, she wasn’t expecting it to be resolved within 30 minutes after the meeting.
The detachment sergeant for Baumholder Army Health Clinic raised her frustrations about the lack of parking spaces near the barracks that houses 40 Soldiers from the Health, Dental and Veterinary Clinics on Smith Barracks that has led to numerous citations issued for illegal parking on the street in front of the building.
“Show me after this,” was all that U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Command Sgt. Maj. Brett Waterhouse said, and the rest of the meeting continued with discussion of managing room assignments for inbound troops to maintain unit integrity, justifications for exemptions to move off post, and scanning furniture bar codes for property accountability.
Afterward, however, Waterhouse followed Velez De Mansilla to the building in question and was surprised at the lack of parking options in the area, as the unaccompanied Soldiers had previously been told they could not park overnight in the post office parking lot behind their barracks. Meanwhile, the area in front of the building only had room for about six cars in an unpaved, unmarked dirt and gravel patch, which the command sergeant major noted would “quickly turn into a slosh pit once winter gets here.”
“Nah,” said Waterhouse, shaking his head and getting the provost marshal on the phone to meet him at the location.
Once Capt. Brandon Dinger arrived and options were discussed, the decision was made that the Soldiers could start parking halfway on the curb/sidewalk in front of the building, as well as overnight in the post office lot without being ticketed, while longer-term solutions could be explored.
“I am always pleasantly surprised when Soldier issues are addressed so quickly,” said Velez De Mansilla, “but honestly that has been my experience with CSM Waterhouse. He is always very proactive. I am so very appreciative of both CSM and the PMO response.”
“I have notified (my Soldiers) about the resolution this afternoon and they are all excited about the fix to this ongoing issue, since so many of them kept getting parking tickets and were at a loss as to where they could and couldn’t park,” she added. “I am confident the garrison is not going to put this issue on the back burner and will help us get to a long-term solution.”
Waterhouse referred to the on-the-spot fix as a “quick win for all.”
“The barracks management meetings are a good forum to collect information, provide answers and solve problems,” said Waterhouse. “It’s easy when we all have the same goal — to make things better here at the barracks for our Soldiers.”
About 30 Soldiers attended the meeting, to include some commanders and first sergeants taking an interest in their troops’ living conditions.
“Quality of life for Soldiers is paramount,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Gum, Baumholder Army Health Clinic commander. “I’m here to advocate for my Soldiers who are working patient care and can’t get away. We need to communicate what’s going well and what needs to be addressed. As long as we raise the issues, DPW is good at taking care of things and getting work orders done so our Soldiers don’t have to do it.”
Silke Drumm, Unaccompanied Housing manager with DPW, echoed the need for identifying things requiring attention, whether minor paint, patch or repair work or more serious issues.
“It is important that barracks managers attend these quarterly barracks stakeholders meetings because they can tell our DPW team any issues they are having that we need to work on,” said Drumm. “If barracks managers don’t submit, DPW doesn’t know that something needs to be repaired, replaced, exchanged, etc.”
Since the recent Army-wide emphasis on housing and barracks, the meetings are also a way to share best practices that can be reported to Installation Management Command during monthly teleconferences, said Housing Chief Harald Kastner.
Drumm closed the meeting on a positive note by letting the barracks managers know that new furniture would start being delivered the following week, to include new appliances such as washers, dryers, stoves and refrigerators, in addition to couches and big-screen TVs for common areas. The new items, she said, are part of a plan to change out all barracks furniture over the next two years.
To submit work orders, please use the following contact information:
(Family Housing and Barracks):
During duty hours: DSN 531-3060, commercial 0611-143-531-3060.
Emergency after-duty hours: DSN 115, commercial 06783-6-115.
Air Force 24/7 Housing Maintenance Line (Vogelweh and Landstuhl housing): 06371-463-9510.