Retired U.S. Navy admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr., discusses the impact of the opioid crisis on his life after the loss of his 19-year-old son to an overdose, and how that tragedy has motivated him to fight the epidemic.
Winnefeld on losing his son to a heroin overdose: “We were there for him, we visited him constantly, but you can't help but look back and go, ‘You know, if I’d have only known, I could have done this and he'd still be with us.’ So that really impacts you as a human being when you lose a child. That’s a constant background noise of sadness and the only thing you can do is to try to help other families avoid this pain by doing whatever you can do and as a leader it teaches you that you can’t wish a problem away and you can’t admire the problem. You just have to step forward and take aggressive action when something is wrong.”
Winnefeld on galvanizing the nation to fight the opioid crisis: “We tend as a nation to react slowly to events, but when they happen, when the nation finally gets galvanized, we're pretty good at taking on a problem. So I don't know if there's a seminal event here that’s going to cause the nation to really step up to it, but the country is starting to understand that there's an opioid epidemic, but we're an inch deep so far in our understanding of the complexity of that epidemic and we have to dramatically enhance public awareness of that.”