TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - When Traci Lenz first spoke out about mold in her on-base home at MacDill Air Force Base, the housing company told her not to worry.
“They looked inside of the vents and told us the house was safe for occupancy, there was no mold growth found by their expert," Lenz said.
But Lenz wasn’t so sure. The Air Force wife and mother of three hired her own licensed mold inspector.
"They found 23 different types of mold in our home, at levels unfit for occupancy,” she said. “And it was in the air handlers. So unfortunately it was spread throughout the home airborne, but it wasn't where we could have been keeping up with it, or even have known."
Many families on base had similar complaints. Their concerns eventually made it to the top: Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, came to MacDill Friday to listen.
"She said she was really here today to hear what families had to say," Lenz said.
And she assured those families there would be no reprisal for speaking out.
"[Wilson assured us] that the command should only be giving support,” she said. “In fact, in the second listening session, she did ask all of the command get up and leave out of the session so that the families could speak freely, and that was very nice."
Wilson's visit came as a relief for so many families, who have complained to the private housing company on base, to their commanders and to lawmakers.
"I want to make sure that the generations that come behind us can feel like every base is home and it's safe,” she said. “It's somewhere they can be proud to go home to. It may not be glorious mansions, but it will be functional and it will be safe."
There are no official plans from Secretary Wilson to tackle the issue, but she did tour a few homes on base, and offered her reassurance to families that she was now involved.