Operation UNITE President & CEO Nancy Hale participated in a roundtable discussion about the status of battling the drug epidemic in Kentucky on November 25, 2019, at the National Guard facilities in London.

Members of the panel included:

  • Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell
  • White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director James Carroll
  • Kentucky Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture State Director Hilda Legg
  • Appalachian HIDTA Director Vic Brown
  • U.S. DEA Acting Assistant Special Agent In Charge Todd Kuehnlein
  • Norman Afflack from the U.S. Marshals Service
  • Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent In Charge John Condon
  • U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Robert Duncan
  • U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman
  • Kentucky State Police Lt. Col. Jeremy Slinker
  • Greg Wolf from the Office of the Attorney General
  • Director of Law Enforcement for the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Services Col. Eric Gibson
  • Lexington Police Department Major David Lyons
  • Col. Gary Lewis from the Kentucky National Guard

Among those attending were Tom Handy and Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele, chairman and vice-chairman of the UNITE Board of Directors, respectively, along with UNITE staff and representatives of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“It was a pleasure to be in Kentucky today to see the incredible work being done to get more people struggling with addiction the help they need,” Carroll said. “The Trump Administration, and all Americans, are fortunate to have great partners like Senator McConnell who choose to devote their time and energy to reversing the pattern of addiction and creating safer communities. Kentucky has made progress in accomplishing our ultimate goal: reducing the number of people dying from drug overdoses.”

Prior to meeting with law enforcement officials, the delegation – along with Governor-Elect Andy Beshear – attended a ribbon-cutting event for the Volunteers of America Mid-States new Hope Center in Manchester. That facility allows addicted pregnant women to reside in the facility and remain drug-free during their pregnancy – another effort to battle the prescription drug and opioid epidemic that has enveloped Kentucky and other parts of the nation.

“As Kentucky continues to endure the unfortunate consequences of opioid and substance abuse, we are reinvesting in comprehensive treatment strategies,” McConnell said. “As Senate Majority Leader, I’m committed to supporting the life-saving work of Volunteers of America by championing comprehensive legislation and securing unprecedented levels of federal funding for Kentucky. As we continue to bolster our prevention, treatment and enforcement efforts, we can make important strides to stopping the tragedy of addiction from inflicting pain on more Kentucky communities.”

McConnell has been a strong advocate for fighting the scourge of drug abuse and addiction, and has consistently increased federal funding levels to battle the epidemic. Under McConnell’s leadership, Kentucky has received more than $240 million to help fight the drug epidemic and recently worked with the University of Kentucky to secure an $87 million federal grant to address opioid crisis in high-risk communities. Due to his innovative approach toward battling the epidemic, Kentucky has evolved into a model program for other states and has been recognized at the national level.

Some information for this article provided by Nita Johnson, The Sentinel-Echo.