For at least several months, junior enlisted service members suffering a lack of hot water and other issues in a barracks building aboard the Maryland Navy base that is home to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center have submitted so-called “trouble tickets” to maintenance staff to fix the issues.

But according to Naval Support Activity Bethesda officials, those trouble tickets were largely disappearing into the ether.

In some cases, trouble tickets submitted by residents in Sanctuary Hall “were not entered into the tracking data base by Unaccompanied Housing staff,” base spokesman Jeremy Brooks said in an email. “Those complaints did not become trouble tickets and were not investigated.”

In other situations, maintenance staff would test out the hot water in a given room during off-peak hours, when the supply was plentiful, and then close out the ticket as resolved, Brooks said.

“A misunderstanding developed about the effectiveness of this process due to this cycle of responses, and it resulted in some hot water issues no longer being forwarded beyond the resident’s initial complaint,” he said. “This resulted in an incomplete picture of the extent of the hot water problem in that building.”

Brooks declined to say whether anyone in the civilian-military maintenance staff was disciplined in connection to the lapses.

“We do not disclose personnel actions,” he said, adding that the trouble ticket issues at Sanctuary Hall had been going on “for months.”

Navy Times first reported on Feb. 4 that junior sailors and soldiers had been going without adequate hot water for years and has also dealt with other issues, including no air conditioning and doors that wouldn’t lock, at Sanctuary and Comfort halls, barracks that house many of the enlisted troops who work at Walter Reed.

A day after the story published, the Navy moved servicemembers out of the affected rooms and pledged to get after fixing problems they had known about for years.

Last week, Brooks ascribed the delays to fixing these problems to “an environment with limited resources and budgetary constraints.”

“We don’t always have the solutions we would like to have,” he said, adding that Navy leadership has since “made additional resources available to accelerate the repairs while maintaining suitable living arrangements for the residents.”

The barracks issues have caught the attention of Capitol Hill, and lawmakers have sought more information from the Navy regarding the problems.

During a Feb. 3 townhall meeting, a recording of which was obtained by Navy Times, base commanding officer Capt. Scott Switzer encouraged affected troops to keep submitting trouble tickets.

But he also admitted that those trouble tickets had been improperly handled.

“We just discovered a problem with our reporting process from some of our people who were not taking care of these trouble tickets the right way, and we screwed that up,” said Switzer, who took command of the base in May 2021.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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