MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Base housing has long been considered an eyesore for the military, and after years of promises, programs and planning, Camp Lejeune's base housing is improving.
On Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. the future of base housing was unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at a newly finished housing unit off of Matanikau Street in Tarawa Terrace. The Deputy Under Secretary Ray DuBois and Major General Robert C. Dickerson, Marine Corps Base commanding general, joined new tenants, Cpl. Johnny Jones and his wife Melissa, for the ceremony in front of the family of six's new home.
Tarawa Terrace is located just outside the main gate of Camp Lejeune, and is home to more than 1,800 military families. Much of the housing at Tarawa Terrace is quite old and has been deemed unacceptable by DuBois and the Department of Defense.
Jones and his wife have been married for three years, and he is coming up on his fourth year in the Marine Corps. Jones is a radio technician with Communication Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2d Marine Division.
They were currently living in what was deemed "unacceptable" housing by the DOD and are the first family to move into the new four-bedroom housing at Tarawa Terrace.
"It was just random. I think we were picked because of the size of our family," said Jones. "We have four kids, so I think that put us on top of the list."
Tarawa Terrace is currently going through a reconstruction that should replace all housing by the spring of 2007.
"We are on a plan to eliminate all inadequate housing by 2007. I grew up in military housing, and I know quality of housing directly relates to retention of our troops," said DuBois.
The current plan is for 317 houses to be built during phase two of the project, which should be finished by the summer of 2006. Phase three includes 358 homes and is scheduled to be finished the spring of 2007.
The total cost of the current project phase is expected to be approximately $80 million. Phase one of the project, which is already finished, replaced 234 homes and cost approximately $24 million, according to Jerry Swain, head of base housing.
"Improving quality of life has been a goal of the DOD for the last seven or so years," said Swain. "These new homes are great for the families."
DuBois went on to talk about how the new housing plans should help the military meet goals for retention and troop welfare.
"It is the presidents plan to raise the quality of life for all enlisted personnel," said DuBois. "He realizes in order for the military to reach its retention and recruiting goals, the DOD has to improve life for the families as well."