Local News

Upscale Military Housing Offers Incentive to Serve

Posted August 28, 2007 9:36 p.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2007 6:39 a.m. EDT

— Fort Bragg is getting a makeover. Renovations to base housing aim to create an upscale community with resort-style living as an extra incentive for soldiers to serve during a time of war and extended deployments.

Fort Bragg plans to tear down 1,600 homes and renovate another 2,000 houses, most of which were built in the 1950s.

Replacing them are modern, 2,000-square-foot homes with attached garages on landscaped streets lined with sidewalks.

"I could be in suburbia America anywhere," Jenny Mayo, the wife of an Army soldier, said of her new home and street.

Resort-style community centers are also being built in many on-post neighborhoods. Those centers feature stadium seating and workout areas with adjoining children's rooms.

Military officials said the renovated homes increase the quality of life for soldiers and their families and are affordable, particularly for younger recruits.

"When you live in a home that that's beautiful for the little amount they're paying for it, you'd be hard-pressed to match that on the outside," said Gary Knight, Bragg deputy garrison commander.

The cost of the improved housing is covered by soldiers' basic housing allowance. Picerne Military Housing, a private contractor doing the renovations, also provides maintenance for the properties.

Melissa Frederick said the nicer housing helps relieve part of the domestic stress often felt by military families, such as hers.

"The reason I know a lot of soldiers get out is because they're unhappy with the housing. Either the housing is too small, their wives are unhappy, or just the general environment," she said. "They're not happy with being in the military.

"Having a good home and having a happy family at home makes you want to stay longer," Frederick continued.

Mayo said simply having more living space makes her feel more at home and helps her worry less about her husband's future deployments.

"In the old house, it was like, just everywhere, every corner of the house, there was some Army bag, something reminding us he's going to leave soon," she said.

Kurt Ehlers, with Picerne Military Housing, said he's glad to provide this service to U.S. servicemen and women.

"You can't ask for a more deserving customer with what the military families are enduring and sacrificing right now," Ehlers said.