Got Complaints About the Barracks or Dining Hall? Now There's an App for That

An airman food-service apprentice serves chicken at the Marshall Dining Facility at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 28, 2021.
An airman food-service apprentice serves chicken at the Marshall Dining Facility at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 28, 2021. (Airman 1st Class Stephen Pulter/U.S. Air Force photo)

Amid widespread criticism and complaints about military barracks, cafeterias and dorms, one former Army reservist is hoping to increase transparency with a new app that allows service members to review their living situations on base.

The app, called "Hots&Cots" and available on Apple devices, was created by former Army reservist Robert Evans and allows users to post pictures of their barracks and DFAC, or dining hall, meals. They can give a rating of one to five stars.

Dorms at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, tech school, for example, were given one star with an accompanying photo of moldy vents. Food at the Panther Inn Warrior Restaurant at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, was given one star with a picture of undercooked chicken as a review.

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Evans, who served 12 years in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, told in an interview Friday that he didn't necessarily create the app to be a complaint system -- it already boasts some five-star reviews of dorms and meals -- but he hopes it'll inspire military leaders to take action.

"There are some great dorms, some great barracks, amazing DFACS out there, and I want to highlight those," Evans said. "Then, whatever branch or service can use that data and see what barracks or dorms or that DFAC is doing well, they can compare it to the ones that are doing bad and can see what changes they need to make."

Evans' app comes on the heels of a nearly 100-page report last month from the Government Accountability Office filled with horrid examples of substandard living conditions in military barracks, such as sewage issues that made entire buildings smell like methane; tap water with a brown tint; and insect infestations.

Pests such as bedbugs and cockroaches were a common issue at six of the bases that the GAO visited. Several bases had severe issues with security in the buildings, to the point that service members said that they were unable to lock their doors at night and squatters had moved in.

The plumbing problems and water considered unsafe to drink sparked a rebuke from Congress. Lawmakers quickly voiced frustration with the services over the conditions, reported.

The issues with barracks, cafeterias and dorms have been known for decades to those in uniform. has also been diligently reporting on the issues.

In just the last two years, has detailed issues in the barracks from soldiers stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, to Fort Liberty, formerly known as Fort Bragg, as well as problems for sailors at facilities such as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; the naval air station at Key West, Florida; and aboard the USS George Washington aircraft carrier as it was undergoing overhaul in Newport News, Virginia.

The coverage also included mold and poor air conditioning in the dorms at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, which left some airmen to hold their own raffle for a new air conditioning unit, as well as Legionella bacteria in a medical barracks at Joint Base San Antonio.

Evans said he personally experienced rough living conditions at Fort Stewart in the early 2000s. He has two children and, given the current state of the military's living conditions, he said he'd have some doubts about them joining up.

"I want them to go into something that they can be proud of and not coming into a situation where they're going to be living in questionable dorms or barracks or eating raw chicken," Evans said. "That's not what I want for them."

The Army is planning to pump $4 billion into barracks construction and renovations, and funding barracks sustainment to 100% of what's authorized by Congress, reported Thursday. It's unclear what other new service-specific or Pentagon improvements are in the works following the watchdog report.

An Android version of "Hots&Cots" is currently in the works. Ultimately, Evans hopes the military takes notice of his simple idea -- to create transparency into what living conditions are like for service members.

"My goal is that maybe the military will put me out of business, and they will have their own system of sorts to provide this for anybody in the military," Evans said. "Because there's nothing like this right now for them."

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on X @TomNovelly.

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