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Remarks by the Vice President During a Roundtable Discussion at the NeuroDiagnostic Institute and Advanced Treatment Center in Indianapolis, Indiana

September 27, 2019

Well, thank you all for being here. And I'm especially grateful to the distinguished leaders in healthcare, drug abuse and prevention in this state, as well as some great friends and a great colleague from our nation's capital.

It's great to be back home in Indiana. We've had a great couple of days. I was yesterday on the east side of Indianapolis, talking about creating jobs with the largest new trade deal in American history.

I had a chance to stop by an elementary school in my hometown because they invited me earlier today. A third grade class at Southside Elementary asked me to come in, and we've kind of been pen pals for a while. And that was a great thrill.

I stopped by to see our troops at Camp Atterbury, who are preparing to deploy.

But I have to tell you, it is a joy for me to be back here at the NeuroDiagnostic Institute, which is an extraordinary statement about Indiana's leadership in the whole area of mental health and also in combatting opioid abuse and addiction.

I specifically want to thank the Surgeon General of the United States — my friend, Dr. Jerome Adams — for being here and for his tremendous work on combatting opioid abuse and addiction.

We are encouraged that, nationwide, in the last year we've seen a 5 percent reduction in overdose deaths from opioid abuse. And it is a beginning of progress, but one that our administration and I know Dr. Adams is absolutely determined to continue to build on that. But we're grateful that you'd be here with us, and thank you for your service to the country.

I'm also grateful to be joined by a former colleague of mine when I had my last job in this state. Dr. Jennifer Sullivan is now the head of Indiana Family and Social Services. And this NeuroDiagnostic Institute is a project of the state of Indiana, and Community East really represents the very best of a public and private partnership. And, Dr. Sullivan, I want to thank you for your great leadership in helping to bring it about.

Also, I want to congratulate Dr. Jerry Sheward for his great work here. He's the superintendent and the chief medical officer here at NDI, and, I think as of this spring, stood up this extraordinary institution, which is, in fact, the first mental health hospital constructed in the state of Indiana in a half a century.

And it was my great privilege to break ground at this site in my last year as Governor of the state of Indiana. And to be back here, Dr. Sheward and Dr. Sullivan, and to see this magnificent building, which is already meeting the needs of patients, is a great tribute to your efforts, to your leadership, and to the leadership the state of Indiana has brought to this project.

I'm grateful, as a Vice President of the United States, to see a state leading on a renewed commitment to mental health. But I'm also proud, as a Hoosier, to see the state of Indiana really creating a model for other communities and other states around the nation to address the challenges that we face from not only drug abuse and addiction, but also the challenges that mental health pose to public safety. And I want to speak about that in our roundtable today.

I want to extend to you the gratitude and the greetings of the President of the United States. I told President Trump that I would be here. And I can assure you, as we can have been confronting this crisis of opioid abuse and addiction since early in this administration, and as we have been dealing as a nation with unspeakable acts of violence, most recently in Texas and in Ohio, that there is at least evidence — are driven by individuals with deep mental illness.

This example in Indiana — of the state of Indiana making a commitment to expand facilities here — really represents a model for the nation. And the President and I have talked about it frequently. And, Bryan Mills, I want to commend you and Community Hospital for really partnering with the state of Indiana to make this a reality.

I was — I was mentioning the fact that we've seen a 5 percent reduction in opioid overdoses nationwide. But if the statistics hold, Indiana is looking at roughly a 12 percent reduction in deaths from opioid overdoses. And that is a tribute to Governor Eric Holcomb, to this administration's commitment to combatting opioid abuse and addiction, to strong law enforcement efforts, but it's also a tribute to the healthcare community in this state. And so I want to extend to you our gratitude.

It's amazing to think a reduction in overdoses — the number of lives that are saved in this state and around this country. And I just want to assure you that as we talk about expanding mental health services here in the state of Indiana, I'm going to be taking this back before the end of the day to meet with the President and share with him what Indiana has been able to do here and our determination to work with Congress in a bipartisan way to address the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction, to address the needs of mental health in this country, with national solutions.

The President truly believes that, in the wake of mass shootings that not only beset Texas and Ohio, but in our tenure, Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Las Vegas, and other days that just broke the heart of the American people — we believe part of the answer is strong law enforcement; part of the answer is prevention. But we also believe — the President and I believe strongly that part of the answer is a renewed commitment to mental health in the United States. And I'm incredibly proud that Indiana is leading the way.

And with the construction of this beautiful NeuroDiagnostic Institute — the first mental health hospital constructed in the state of Indiana in 50 years — I want to congratulate each of you on really providing a model for other states around the country and an inspiration to leaders in our nation's capital to do more in the area of mental health.

So, thank you very much. And, Dr. Adams, thank you again for being here.

Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President During a Roundtable Discussion at the NeuroDiagnostic Institute and Advanced Treatment Center in Indianapolis, Indiana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/334059

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