Talks veterans’ issues and regional infrastructure in Gazette interview
by ANDREW NEAL
Democratic Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11) paid a visit to service members in Kuwait and Afghanistan over Thanksgiving weekend to serve the troops dinner, talk with them about their experience overseas, and learn more about veterans issues from the source.
“Many veterans have returned as contractors, working with one of the many companies that the State Department or Department of Defense utilizes in the ongoing war on terror,” Rep. Stevens told the Gazette. “It was very eyeopening to learn about some of the challenges that our veterans have while overseas in terms of accessing their resources.”
Also on the delegation trip was Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) who said that some of the issues facing the VA could be streamlined through awareness and improved services.
Stevens noted that, especially in Afghanistan, troops are dealing with poor air quality conditions. Due to the country’s poor energy infrastructure, when it gets cold at night, “they are burning anything that they can for heat, and those particles get in the air, people breathe them in, and it definitely causes some issues,” she said.
A renewed conversation in Oakland County on regional transit has piqued Stevens’ interest, as she advocates for more transportation alternatives to personal cars.
“We should be able to continue to innovate. And that means looking at smart public transportation solutions that increase productivity, allow people to reclaim some time they’re losing because they’re behind the wheel of a car.”
Stevens acknowledged the difficulties of a modern infrastructure overhaul in a “built environment,” but frames its importance as a matter of regional competitiveness, also noting the profound impact that autonomous and electric vehicle technology could have on Oakland County.
“This is also tied in to some of our tremendous strengths as a regional economy, and that’s particularly our ability to innovate and proliferate new technologies to meet transportation concerns. We’ve done that with automotive. We’re going to continue to do that, and some of these new technologies coming out of automotive are absolutely going to lead to public transportation solutions.”