Second Lady, administration officials tour Indiana company taking new approach to drug crisis

RICHMOND, Ind. – Alongside several officials from President Trump’s administration, Second Lady Karen Pence was back in Indiana Tuesday, touring a company in Richmond that is taking a new approach to the state’s drug crisis.

Belden, Inc. launched the Pathways to Employment pilot program earlier this year.

“While it is premature to declare this initiative a success, I assure you we will stick with the Belden blueprint,” John Stroup said, the company’s president and CEO.

Job applicants who failed their drug test, and otherwise would have been hired, can now enroll in a drug rehabilitation program paid for by the company. Upon successful completion, a job will then be waiting.

“I knew that I wanted to visit the company,” Pence said. “And I knew the people I wanted to bring with me who can really make a difference.”

Pence was joined on the tour by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Kellyanne Conway, senior counsel to the president.

“President Trump, Vice President Pence, the First Lady and Second Lady are all truly raising awareness and offering solutions,” Conway said, who oversees the White House efforts on the opioid crisis.

Administration officials publicly praised the company’s approach while also reminding employees of President Trump’s pitch to Americans as well.

“Our economy is strong,” Acosta said. “Stronger than it has been in many of our lifetimes.”

Adams, who previously served as Indiana’s health commissioner, called the opioid crisis one of the most pressing issues facing the country.Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released provisional data showing more than 71,000 people died from drug overdoses nationwide from March 2017 to March 2018. Of those, more than 1,700 were from Indiana.

“I wanna know who in here works for Belden?” Adams said. “Raise your hand. I want to say to each and every one of you all – thank you.”