First Lady, acting Homeland Security secretary participate in opioid roundtable in Huntington, WV

HUNTINGTON — First lady Melania Trump visited West Virginia Monday to participate in discussions with local, state and federal officials regarding the opioid crisis. 

Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s communications director, confirmed the first lady’s departure and destination Monday morning on Twitter.

Officials joining the first lady in a roundtable panel discussion at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department were Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia’s U.S. senators Shelley Moore Capito, R, and Joe Manchin, D, as well as acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan. 

The group discussed what tools and programs are already in place in West Virginia to fight the opioid epidemic and what more can be done to solve the problem in the region as well as all the rest of the country. 

“I’ve said over and over that we have to do everything under the sun to end the drug crisis once and for all,” Justice said during the discussions. “The entire Trump family and the First Lady truly get it. They understand how solving this crisis is the most important thing we can do to help the people of our great state and I’m honored to see how committed First Lady Trump is to working alongside my administration in our fight to help West Virginians break the cycle of addiction and get back on their feet.” 

The officials touted the many efforts in and around Huntington to combat the drug crisis. According to a release from Manchin’s office, Cabell County saw 1,831 overdoses in 2017, with more than 180 resulting in death. Calling the city “the epicenter of the opioid crisis,” Manchin went on to say the county has since seen a 50 percent reduction in overdoses thanks to new efforts by officials at all levels. 

Capito praised those efforts as part of her opening remarks at the roundtable. 

“I just want to say to the leadership in Huntington and Cabell County, it has been an inspiration for me to watch,” Capito said. “What you did (is say), ‘This is problem that needs a solution.’” 

Secretary McAleenan was particularly interested in applying the strategies that have been successful in Cabell County throughout the country. 

“What I understand about Huntington is that this has been a whole-of-community effort for several years, and you’re starting to see results of that teamwork and collaboration,” McAleenan said during his opening remarks. “So it’s going to be really important for us to hear how you’re attacking this as a team and what we can learn that and build from at the national level.” 

Following the roundtable, McAleenan joined the senators at the Cabell County Courthouse Drug Court and Marshall University’s Digital Forensic Lab, taking part in more discussions and seeing firsthand some of the strategies being used to combat the opioid crisis.  

“The new and innovative ways our first responders and our drug courts are fighting the opioid epidemic in Huntington are crucial to ending this crisis across our country,” Manchin said.

By:  Staff
Source: The State Journal