WASHINGTON (WAVY) — Two members of Congress from Hampton Roads are urging the U.S. Navy to use a Defense Department program to improve the quality of life for sailors assigned to the USS George Washington.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) want the Navy to explore funding from the Defense Community Infrastructure Program. Last year, the program awarded nearly $60 million to 13 projects nationwide, including two that supported Joint Base Little Creek-Fort Story and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.
“We really want to make sure that we can leverage all the resources possible and help the sailors to get them a better quality of life and to make sure that they have the mental health resources that they need,” Luria said in a Wednesday interview.
In the past year, there have been seven reported deaths of those on the ship. Four of those were suicides, and three happened in less than a week’s span in April.
Luria says money from DCIP could be used for parking and single-sailor housing that is lacking for the USS George Washington — or any large ship that pulls into Newport News for refueling and complex overhaul, a status the Washington has been in now for the past five years.
She said the isolation and monotony create specific problems for the crew.
“They’re working and they’re living in this industrial environment, some of them don’t have cars and they have the commute and the parking and getting to work is just an additional stress.”
Luria and Scott will begin conversations with local government on the Virginia Peninsula to see what would be the best partnerships to create what sailors need for everyday living and commuting.
“The public/private venture housing [known as] PPV housing and the parking-related issues,” would be two key infrastructure targets that could make a difference for sailors assigned to the carrier, according to Luria.