School of Business Dean David Brat joins Baltimore town hall on opioids crisis
Since November, Liberty University has been directly involved in a series of televised town halls across the country that are shining a light on one of our nation’s most serious public health crises — opioids abuse and addiction. The latest town hall, sponsored by Liberty, was aired from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Thursday night and featured Dr. David Brat, dean of Liberty’s School of Business. Brat served two terms as the U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th District (2014-18) and worked on legislation to combat the crisis.
The event, “Your Voice. Your Future. Opioids: A National Crisis,” was moderated by former Fox News reporter Eric Bolling and is one of 14 town halls that have been planned through April and are being aired on TV stations throughout the country. Bolling’s son, Eric Chase, died after an accidental opioids overdose in 2017. Bolling is partnering with Sinclair Broadcast Group to join the forces who are fighting the epidemic and to create awareness and lower the stigma of opioids abuse. More than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids since 2000.
Bolling kicked off the first town hall at Liberty on Nov. 28, featuring First Lady Melania Trump, who has made the prevention of opioids-related deaths a main pillar of her BE BEST initiative. Liberty President Jerry Falwell and his wife, Becki, took part in the first town hall as well as town halls in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 19 and in Las Vegas (also featuring the first lady) on March 6.
Thursday’s town hall also included special guests Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford; Steve Schuh, director of Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center; James Carroll, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy; Harford County (Md.) Sheriff Jeff Gahler; Todd Edwards, DEA Heroin Task Force Group supervisor; as well as other law enforcement and health care professionals involved in the study, treatment, recovery, and early education of opioid addiction.
Brat said he applauds Bolling, Sinclair, and Liberty for dedicating “significant time and resources to really move the needle on an issue that affects everyone in this country.”
“It is a great honor for me to speak on behalf of President Falwell and Becki Falwell for both the country and Liberty on an issue that is plaguing our communities and where the leaders above are calling attention to and working to solve the problem and minister to people in need as they or their families suffer from and recover from addiction,” Brat said before the event. “In Congress, I had the opportunity to work at the federal level on legislation to fight for our constituents. Part of the problem is that the federal monies were not making their way down to the local sheriffs and churches and organizations that actually meet with and serve those in recovery.”
During the event, Brat also echoed the sentiments of the Falwells at earlier town halls in expressing the need to stop the stigma of opioids abuse and show sincere compassion toward those who are struggling with addiction.
“It’s obvious the church and the family is going to have to play a key role. At Liberty University, that is what we do. We live in a faith community, we’re proud of that, and we believe in second chances.”
Liberty will be the sponsor for two upcoming town halls in West Palm Beach, Fla., on March 27 and Little Rock, Ark., on April 16.
>>To receive help for an addiction, call the National Opioid Addiction Center at (800) 662-4357.
The Jerry Falwell Library is hosting Dr. David Jenkins, professor of counseling and director of the M.A. in Addiction Counseling program at Liberty, for a talk on “The Opioid Crisis: How the Church Can Help,” from 2:30-3:30 p.m. on March 26 in the Terrace Conference Room. The session will include general information on substance abuse and addiction, with a focus on opioid addiction, the treatment and recovery from it, and how the body of Christ can effectively respond.