Vice President Mike Pence praised Kentucky’s effort Thursday to combat the opioid epidemic saying more federal money is being invested to help the progress being made in the region.
Pence spoke to an invitation-only crowd of about 200 in Manchester, once called the epicenter of the original opioid crisis that began 20 years ago.
But, he said, times have changed.
“And in this region of crisis, Manchester is a city of hope, overdose deaths in Kentucky has been reduced by nearly 15%. Well done, Kentucky,” Pence said to a round of applause from the crowd.
Pence declared the commitment of Trump administration to work until the end of what he called “the scourge of addiction” that has hit Kentucky especially hard.
“The object here is to come alongside people that have been caught up in drug abuse and addiction I promise you that we will continue to provide Kentucky with the resources to support personnel and services that can help people find their way out of the darkness of drug abuse and addiction,” he said.
Pence also announced new grants through the cabinet for Health and Human Services that include $10 million directly targeting recovery support in Kentucky. That included $750,000 for the University of Pikeville to train social workers.
Other politicians in attendance included Gov. Matt Bevin, Congressman Hal Rogers, and Alex Azur, the secretary of the Health and Human Services.
Pence also took the opportunity to announce that $400 million of funding is being released from the Department of Health and Human Services. Of that, he said, $10 million is going directly to programs in Kentucky.
Although most of the conversation centered around other talking points, Pence was in Kentucky Thursday to promote the work of the Innovative Readiness Training program run through the Department of Defense. It provides medical care and infrastructure needs to rural and underprivileged communities and will be holding several free clinics through August 10. Pence praised the dedication of the military members carrying out the mission.