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Blog Post | November 27, 2017

Welcome to S.A.F.E. Project

In November of 2017, Sandy and Mary Winnefeld launched SAFE Project US.


Welcome to the S.A.F.E. Project US network!  “S.A.F.E. Project US” stands for “Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic,” and we are glad to have you on board.

S.A.F.E. Project US’s genesis comes from the fact that we lost our wonderful, nineteen year old son Jonathan to an overdose on 7 September, 2017, after a 16 month long period he spent in recovery.  It is not our intent to dwell on his story for this project (though you can find it on the site—and we hope to include others’ stories on the side as well).  So this is not about Jonathan, it is about helping other victims and families avoid the same fate.  We lost 64,000 people last year to this scourge, and there is no reason to believe the number won’t increase in 2017, so we need to get started.

One of the important things I discovered along the way is that I learned a great deal about addiction itself during Jon’s recovery, but I only really learned about the epidemic after his death.  And there are so many things I wish I’d known, starting when our son was in his early childhood, that could have saved his life.

Many people have chosen to keep their family’s addiction tragedy to themselves, and I can completely understand why.  However, because I was honored to by the Vice Chairman Of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (until I retired from the Navy in 2015), my spouse Mary and I feel we might have a unique opportunity to help our nation conquer this epidemic.  Realizing that government is not likely to solve this problem on its own, we decided to start the S.A.F.E. Project US project.  With the help of a great many friends we have:

  • Formulated our approach along six lines of operation, which are listed on our homepage
  • Connected with the Aspen Institute, to which we will be linking our effort
  • Written an article for the Atlantic magazine and appeared on Charlie Rose and the CBS This Morning
  • With the very generous support of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (T.A.P.S.) we’ve begun our fund raising efforts to get the project off the ground.  We hope to soon be hiring an executive director to accelerate our efforts.

You can read our mission, vision, and guiding principles, our six lines of operation, and the resource linkages we hope to provide elsewhere on the S.A.F.E. Project US website.  However, there are two points I want to make very clearly: if our nation does not treat the opioid epidemic as the national security emergency it truly is, the impact on our nation will be worse than any terrorist attack.  Moreover, we as a nation cannot fail in any one of the areas we must address in order to overcome it, since all these efforts are so closely intertwined.

S.A.F.E. Project US is an ambitious project.  If you are on this site, there is something for you, whether your are need help, know someone who needs help, or simply want to help.

We could use your support, whether it comes in the form of a donation, or ideas, or sweat equity as one of our state coordinators or in some other position. Our website is a work in progress, but we wanted to get it up on line as soon as possible.  Stay tuned, and we will keep you apprised of our progress!

Thank you,

Sandy Winnefeld

November 28, 2017