NEW BERN U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, (R-N.C.), completed tours across Eastern North Carolina this week in an effort to focus attention on the armed forces, highlight the opioid abuse health crisis and acknowledge the industries boosting the economy.Starting in Fayetteville, Burr sponsored the 15th Annual North Carolina Defense and Economic Development Trade Show at Fayetteville Technical Community College, which provides networking opportunities and government procurement workshops for both prospective and current federal contractors.”This enables me to go back and tweak legislation in a way that enhances the ability for the Department of Defense, Fort Bragg, Seymour Johnson, Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point, and Dobson, to do more of their procurement locally with North Carolina companies and to understand better the direction of those that make the business decisions at these bases so hopefully we can enhance what is the second largest contributor to our state economy,” said Burr.Burr touted North Carolina as the model for the rest of the country, praising the state’s strong partnership between the armed forces and the educational system.”Some states are trying to replicate what we do primarily because of our ability to integrate the educational system into our active duty force it is as simple as the ability for a spouse to get a degree while their spouse is active duty stationed in North Carolina,” said Burr.”It goes without saying that every place we have a military footprint, we match that with a community that values the military investment there. It is as much about the communities as it is the state,” he added.Burr’s tour also joined State Health Director Dr. Randall Williams and representatives from Walgreens in New Bern to unveil a new prescription drop box where unused pills can be safely discarded, a program designed to join the national battle against opioid overdoses.”This is the No. 1 public health crisis we are facing. There are 91,000 prescriptions for narcotics for every 100,000 North Carolinians. We think about two- thirds of those prescriptions have leftover drugs. Our great realization is one out of four of deaths are from overdoses. More people are dying in North Carolina from overdoses than automobile accidents, AIDS and guns,” said Williams.Safe medication disposal kiosks are located in 22 Walgreens throughout North Carolina. These coincide with the state’s passing of a bill allowing anyone to purchase the opioid-reversing drug naloxone at the counter in efforts to decrease overdose deaths. Law enforcement agencies across the state also carry naloxone.”The governor feels we have a duty as a government to put discussion about opioid abuse out in the forefront. For a United States senator to do the same and saying, ‘we are going to talk about this,’ it is incredibly powerful,” said Williams.Burr addressed the effects of the statistics that show 80 percent of all oral narcotics in the world are consumed in the U.S. “The epidemic of prescription drugs and illegal drugs is an epidemic America has never seen before. Between the years of 2000 and 2014, over a half-million Americans died over a drug overdose. Today, from opioid overdoses, 73 Americans will die,” said Burr.North Carolinians with questions about opioid overdoses and the use of Naloxone can visit naloxonesaves.org.Additional visits during Burr’s Eastern Tour included stops at small businesses and large industries including Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop in Port City and Electrolux in Kinston.
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