Army Family Awarded $10.3 Million After Living in Mold-Infested Home at Texas' Fort Cavazos

Homes on Fort Cavazos, Texas
Cavalry Family Housing homes on Fort Cavazos, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Samantha Harms)

An Army family at Fort Cavazos in Texas was awarded $10.3 million Monday after living in a mold-infested home run by a private Army housing company and repeated hospitalizations of their newborn infant for respiratory difficulties.

Sgt. Jason Kiernan's wife Sarah was having constant health problems, including respiratory issues, during her pregnancy while living in the house, according to the lawsuit. Two months later, their newborn was hospitalized for 20 days. The family eventually discovered black mold behind the walls.

The arbitration award is among the most significant in recent military history as mold has become a top issue that service leaders have struggled to remedy. Meanwhile, private military housing providers operate with relatively little oversight from the Army despite years of outcry from service members and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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The house the Kiernans lived in and its subsequent maintenance was managed by Cavalry Family Housing, which has some 5,000 homes around Fort Cavazos in its portfolio. The housing company did not return a request for comment.

"We feel violated," Sarah Kiernan told "Those houses really are harming people."

She added that during her pregnancy she suffered from rashes, sore throats and respiratory troubles.

As her health complications became more severe, the doctor performed an emergency C-section in February 2019. Her newborn son, Grant, immediately had respiratory troubles. He was hospitalized and flown to Austin, Texas, in April that same year, suffering from asthma at two months old, which the family and their attorney argued was caused by the mold in the home.

After returning home from pediatric intensive care, Grant was again hospitalized two days later. A month after that, he was taken to a pediatrician due to breathing difficulties.

"Every time we went back home, he got sick," Sarah Kiernan said.

In May 2019, one of the Kiernans' older sons was playing and fell through a wall that was soggy; mold was revealed behind the wet drywall. The Army then reassigned the Kiernans to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Now, all of the Kiernans children are suffering from illnesses consistent with long-term exposure to mold, according to the lawsuit. The youngest has asthma and seizures. The other two sons -- and Jason Kiernan, who has since left the Army -- have various respiratory problems that did not exist prior to 2019 when they lived in the mold-infested house.

Meanwhile, the Army is looking to also privatize its barracks as the service has struggled to manage the buildings and keep up with basic infrastructure maintenance. Those junior enlisted quarters have their own history with mold, pests and other poor conditions. But some momentum is building on Capitol Hill toward privatization.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth noted in an interview with in October that the service would be scrutinizing potential partners for contracts.

"If we did pursue privatized barracks on a broader scale, I don't think we'd necessarily be working with bad partners," she said at the time.

Related: Army Eyes Privatized Barracks as It Struggles to Find a Solution to Poor Living Conditions for Soldiers

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