Guest blog: Calling all business leaders to pledge now to end opioid addiction

Blog post by Roger Krone, CEO, Leidos

Roger A. Krone is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Leidos. Before being named CEO in July 2014, Krone held leadership roles at some of the most prominent organizations in aerospace for nearly 40 years. Krone earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Krone is a member of the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees, BorgWarner board, WETA Public Television and Radio in Washington board, the Greater Washington Urban League chapter board, Executive Committee of Professional Services Council (PSC), the Executive Committee of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), a member of the CEO Business Roundtable, and a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Foundation’s Board of Advisors.

 

Let me tell you the story of Sean Hindman. Growing up, Sean loved to swim, skateboard, hang out with friends and, most of all, play soccer. After high school, he earned his associate degree and worked as an electrical technician in his home town of Pittsburgh. When Sean was a teenager, he became addicted to prescription opioid painkillers and spent the following decade in and out of rehabilitation. On Sept. 19, 2016, Sean Hindman fatally overdosed on heroin. He was thirty years old.

Sean’s father, John Hindman, has been a Leidos employee since before Sean’s birth. Not long after his son’s tragic death, John spoke with a young man who, thanks in part to Sean’s encouragement, overcame his own battle with addiction. This conversation reaffirmed John’s decision to become an advocate for preventing drug addiction, a crisis he describes as “a tsunami threatening the very fabric of our society.”

John is right. The opioid epidemic is one of the most urgent health emergencies in our communities today. Many experts believe it is the worst drug crisis in U.S. history. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of unintentional death in our country. Millions suffer from non-fatal opioid use disorder, and countless more will suffer if trends continue. In Maryland alone, 2017 saw nearly 2,000 overdose deaths involving opioids, the seventh-highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S.

If we’re going to improve these numbers, America’s business leaders, including the esteemed members of this chamber, must act. Private businesses can mobilize resources and respond quickly. We can initiate response efforts through employee education, volunteerism, and focus our charitable dollars where they’re needed most. This money can go toward prevention efforts and partnerships with nonprofit organizations. We can also affect change on the treatment side through reviewing our employee health benefits, employee assistance programs, and prescription drug plans. Finally, we can harness American brain power, entrepreneurship, and innovation from the private sector to present new ideas and invent solutions.

In a brave and poignant email, John challenged me as CEO of Leidos to join the fight. I accepted his challenge, and Leidos embarked on a campaign to help. Roughly 20 percent of all Leidos employees call Maryland home, more than any other state, so we’re proud to support organizations including Aberdeen Proving Ground and the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center as we all work toward the same goal to end addiction.

Now, I’m asking every business leader in this chamber to join us. I encourage you to sign our CEO pledge to end opioid addiction, and to turn your commitment into action in your local communities. Everyone has a role to play when facing an epidemic. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is fortunate to include many responsible corporate citizens who do incredible work in their communities. From one business leader to another, I urge you to pledge now.

 

 

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