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Michigan Army National Guard receives $26 million to improve gender equity in facilities

Soldiers with the Army active, Reserve, and National Guard components attend a vehicle recovery course in a body of water at the Regional Training Site-Maintenance (RTS-M), 177th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, Fort Custer Training Center, Augusta, Michigan, May 19, 2022.
Master Sgt. David Eichaker
Michigan National Guard
Women service members currently make up about 18% of the Michigan Army National Guard.

The Michigan Army National Guard is set to receive about $26 million in federal funds to promote gender equity in its facilities. The money will be used to make its armories more inclusive to women service members.

Many of the guard’s armories across Michigan were built before 1970. Since most service members at the time were men, the designs of these facilities were made solely to cater to their needs.

Today, about 18% of service members identify as women. Del Avery, master planner for the guard's Construction and Facilities Management Office, says most of these facilities do not meet the needs of these service members.

"We've got armories that has only one toilet for a unit that potentially could have eight to ten women soldiers, and they don't even have a shower," he said. "We've heard from service members that, yes, the showers are inadequate. The bathroom are inadequate, and the lactation rooms are inadequate."

Last year, the state allocated $100 million in funds ($50 million from the state and $50 million from the federal government) to modernize current facilities. These funds were used to improve 9 of the 33 facilities targeted for improvements.

Avery says the additional $26 million they have secured will be used to begin construction on 12 more facilities.

"If our force isn't prepared to take on any mission that is thrown at them, for whatever reason, if they're not prepared in being prepared as having facilities that accommodates their abilities to do their jobs, then we're not ready," he added.

Senator Gary Peters advocated for the state to receive the federal funds. He says making these improvements is a priority for him.

"The $26 million that we were able to secure for the state of Michigan is out of a pot of money of $75 million for the entire country," Peters said.

Construction is expected to begin before the end of 2023.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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