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Michigan National Guard updates facilities for gender equity

Grand Ledge Armory Womens Facilities.JPG
Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
The first phase of a project to modernize the Grand Ledge Armory to "address inequities that exist in the facilities provided to Michigan’s women service members" is complete.

The first step in a multi-million-dollar effort to modernize Michigan's National Guard buildings is now complete.

The work at the Grand Ledge Armory involved expanding women’s facilities like showers and providing a lactation room.

Staff Sgt. Chandra Taylor is a new mother. She said the upgrades, like a lactation room, help with her productivity.

“There was nowhere for me to pump before. Now I have a room that I can go into, take my laptop, work, pump, I can still provide for my son, and I can still do my job as a soldier,” Taylor at an event marking the finished renovations Monday.

Some lawmakers and state officials, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, toured the space during the event. She said there are over 1,500 women in the Michigan Army National Guard.

“However, the very harsh reality is that very few of the facilities that guard members have used have been updated to reflect the growing number of women who serve our state and our nation. So, we’re taking action,” Whitmer said.

She said the Grand Ledge Amory is one of 33 across the state targeted for upgrades.

The most recent state budget sets aside $100 million for those gender inclusive fixes, among other modernization efforts.

State Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) serves on the Appropriations and House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security committees. She joined for the tour Monday.

“Even in our own state capitol, women legislators struggle because there’s not lactation facilities in our capitol. So, I’m very sympathetic to this and I’m thrilled that we were able to get both a state and federal match in the 2023 budget,” Rogers said.

The U.S. Army previously required commanders to designate a specific space for lactation.

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