Admiral Sandy Winnefeld — Losing a 737 Every Day

Bill Gallagher

The United States is losing over 100,000 people and experiencing over half a trillion dollars of economic impact each year due to opioids, including fentanyl. That’s more than a 737 crash per day. This public health and national security issue is a supply-and-demand problem that, unlike previous epidemics, our nation is failing to resolve.


Admiral Winnefeld graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and served for 37 years in the United States Navy. He flew the F-14 Tomcat and served as an instructor at TopGun and as senior aide-de-camp to General Colin L. Powell. He commanded a fighter squadron, the amphibious ship USS Cleveland, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, a carrier strike group, two NATO commands, the United States Sixth Fleet, the United States Northern Command, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. He retired after serving as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Admiral Winnefeld is a frequently-published author and a director or advisor to companies operating in a broad spectrum of business sectors.


Growing up in a military family, Admiral Winnefeld’s younger son Jonathan developed anxiety and depression in middle school and eventually spent 15 months in a treatment center. HIPAA privacy laws kept his parents from knowing about his opioid addiction, and despite his successful graduation from treatment, Jonathan died from an overdose just five days after starting college.


Fentanyl is so deadly because it can take a life the first time someone uses it. This deep societal problem pays no heed to the rich or poor, black or white, educated or not, male or female. It can take the life of anyone, even if it’s the first time they’ve ever used drugs.


Public stigma is public enemy number one in the fight against fentanyl, but Admiral Winnefeld isn’t letting that stop his mission. Shortly after his son’s death, he and his wife recognized that they had the opportunity to prevent this tragedy from affecting more lives. In the SAFE Project, he aims to increase public awareness, improve full-spectrum prevention and responsible medical prescribing, improve law enforcement and justice, increase treatment and recovery, and improve family outreach and support.


The goal of the SAFE Project is to save a life every single day. Admiral Winnefeld shares actionable items that can help reach that goal, from supporting and educating family members to having NARCANĀ® available to quickly treat an overdose. Companies have an obligation to face this crisis alongside individuals, families, and society at large. The responsibility of addressing the problem and finding solutions to the epidemic is the duty of every one of us.


Interview Links:

James A. Winnefeld

SAFE Project



20,000 Scaleups

Scaling Up Summits (Select Bill Gallagher as your coach during registration for a discount.)

Bill on YouTube

Recruiter.com Short List (use code scaleup)


Scaling Up is the best-selling book by Verne Harnish and our team for Scaling Up Coaches (formerly Gazelles). We share how the fastest-growing companies succeed where so many others fail.


Bill Gallagher, Scaling Coach and host of the show, is an international business coach who works with C-Suite leaders to achieve breakthrough growth.


We help leadership teams with the biggest decisions around People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash so that they can Scale Up successfully and beat the odds of business growth. Scaling Up is based on Verne’s original best-selling business book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.


Did you enjoy today’s episode? If so, then please leave a review! Help other business leaders discover the Scaling Up Business Podcast so they, too, can benefit from the ideas shared in these podcasts.


Check out this episode!

Loved this? Spread the word