Jessica Mathews /

The state of Michigan’s first-ever Women Veterans Conference is this weekend and officials say it's been a long time coming.

About 150 women military veterans from across Michigan will gather at the Lansing Center today and tomorrow for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency’s inaugural Women Veterans Conference, with a theme centered on advocacy.

That includes how women veterans can advocate for their mental and physical health and career advancement, as well as advocating for others by learning how to run for local offices, commissions and boards.

Under the Whitmer administration, the first-ever conference was said to be the latest milestone within the MVAA’s strategic goal of supporting underserved veterans of all eras and backgrounds.

Women veterans are said to be the fastest-growing part of the veteran population. Michigan is home to more than 43,000 women veterans, which represents about 8% of the state’s veteran population. That is projected to grow to 16% by 2045.

Livingston County has around 730 women veterans, which is roughly 8% of the county’s overall veteran population of 9,280 – according to the MVAA.

It says women veterans face many challenges, including substance abuse, homelessness, lack of adequate health care and the widespread issues of not identifying as veterans and being overlooked as veterans.

MVAA Director Zaneta Adams, an Army veteran, said “This conference has been a long-time coming for women in Michigan. It’s exciting because this is a major event for women to get together in a safe space and learn about whole health, advocacy and how to grow community leadership.”

More information is available in the attached release.