Jacksonville woman says she was whistleblower in private military housing issues

As the Navy launches surveys for sailors to speak openly about private military housing concerns, one Jacksonville woman opened up to Action News Jax about her story of enduring harmful living conditions several years ago in military housing in Norfolk, Virginia.

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Shelley Federico of Jacksonville says she was the first military spouse to speak out about private housing concerns across the military.

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She tells Action News Jax Ryan Nelson her decision to speak out about mold in her home nearly a decade ago opened the door for subsequent investigations resulting in congressional hearings, and others with similar stories to come forward.

“I’ve lived the nightmare,” said Federico. “So I know exactly what they’re going through.”

Federico tells Action News Jax she, her husband (a retired Marine), and her step-daughter, moved into a mold-ridden military housing property in Norfolk, Virginia in 2010.

“We had mold in our home,” she said. “We had water intrusion throughout our home…”

She said mold exposure resulted in brain injuries for her and her husband.

She turned to congressional lawmakers for support, and ultimately spent four years in court with her private military housing provider before settling on an undisclosed amount in 2016.

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Action News Jax told you Friday when the Navy announced a survey for sailors to share their concerns about private military housing.

“What makes the survey unique is that it is being conducted on behalf of the Navy,” said the press release from Naval Station Mayport. “Which is different than past annual surveys that were conducted on behalf of the five companies that provide Navy privatized housing.”

As concerns grow nationally Federico’s encouraging others to tell their stories.

For those who may be suffering, she says it’s a matter of military personnel being mission ready.

“Men and women sign for this country, to ensure that we’re free,” she said. “But we’re sending them sick.”

On Thursday the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House will hold a hearing about this very topic, and discuss potential solutions.