Former Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Anne Hazlett might just have one of the toughest jobs in DC today. As the Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs in the Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House, her focus day in and day out is the fight against opioid abuse in the United States that is claiming the lives of over 200 people a day. She told Hoosier Ag Today that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers, but she prefers to focus on the progress being made.
“We’ve certainly seen encouraging signs of progress at the national level and I saw that firsthand being in Indiana this past week. Indiana is blessed to have, in addition to the leadership of President Trump on this issue, a governor in Governor Eric Holcomb that is quite engaged and has shown real leadership in bringing the different agencies to work directly with local communities to address this challenge.”
Hazlett was in Indiana late last week to meet with rural legislators to hear about what’s happening in their communities.
“The impact that this is having on schools, on the need for having trained personnel that can help provide mental healthcare as well as treatment if somebody has gone down the road of addiction.”
She told me that it was fitting that her last visit of the day was to meet with rural broadband provider NineStar Connect in Hancock County and local healthcare and community leadership.
“Whether we’re talking about rural Indiana, or Kansas, or even the west coast, infrastructure is so important in rural communities; specifically, broadband infrastructure. How can we use technology to deliver the healthcare services that someone needs? Then, perhaps more importantly, for that long-term, long horizon in a community, how do we ensure that these are places of prosperity not just now but for generations to come?”
In the full interview below, Hazlett and I discuss her transition to her new role in the White House from USDA, how severe the opioid crisis has become in the US, and more about her visit to Indiana last week.