CEO Corner: Passionate People
Relationships expand the reach of prevention efforts
It’s a privilege to get to partner with people you admire. One of the highlights of my career in the prevention space has been working with Admiral James Winnefeld and his wife, Mary. After the tragic death of their 19-year-old son, Jonathan, from an accidental opioid overdose, the Winnefelds founded the national nonprofit SAFE Project to end the opioid epidemic devastating our nation. Faced with an unbelievable tragedy, the Winnefelds channeled their energy into raising awareness about opioid misuse and helping others prevent, treat and recover from Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
Admiral Winnefeld is an inspiration to all of us working to end the overdose epidemic. After an accomplished 37-year career in the United States Navy, he has served as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired as the number two ranking military officer in the U.S. However, it’s his humility, empathy and drive to save other families from experiencing the pain of losing someone to OUD that truly distinguish his leadership and his character.
SAFE Project’s focus on creating SAFE Campuses, SAFE Communities, SAFE Workplaces and SAFE Veterans is making an immense positive impact through training sessions, recovery programs and anti-stigma initiatives like the No Shame Pledge. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early last year and overdose numbers began to skyrocket across the county, we had the privilege to partner with them on two Gone for Good ® at-home medication disposal campaigns to increase access to safe drug disposal for nearly 25,000 households.
For the third Gone for Good campaign, we are thrilled to add Athletico, a leader in physical and occupational therapy, as another campaign cosponsor. Initially slated to run April 1-30, 2021, the campaign has been so successful that we’ve extended it through May 15 in support of National Prevention Week (May 9-15) to give even more people access to safe drug deactivation and disposal.
In addition to the Gone for Good campaign, SAFE Project and Athletico have created a new partnership to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic. The National Opioid Reduction Partnership aims to educate individuals on the risks associated with prescription opioids and provide actionable solutions.
Since the Winnefelds founded SAFE Project in 2017, the need for compassionate leaders in the fight against prescription medication misuse has only increased. Ending the opioid epidemic is a daunting task, but as long as passionate people like James and Mary Winnefeld continue to champion actionable solutions and build partnerships that strengthen our collective efforts, I believe this is a fight we will win.
Through May 15, anyone can request a free Deterra Pouch at DeterraSystem.com/SAFE. Share the link and help spread the word in your community or on social media using #GoneForGoodUS.
Chairman & CEO of Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc.