Football legend Herschel Walker visits Airmen, wounded warriors
By Nathan Simmons, 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 25, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --
Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Herschel Walker visited Airmen from the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Oct. 23, here.
Walker spoke to more than 200 Airmen about his life as a boy, leading up to his college and NFL days. He also discussed the challenges he faced with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder.
Walker recounted reading journals he kept from his childhood and being taken aback by the rage and anger that came across in some of his entries. After deciding to seek help, he saw firsthand the negativity surrounding mental health issues.
"People think that being in the hospital is a sign of weakness," Walker said. "But the Herschel Walker in the hospital is the same Herschel Walker who did all these great things."
Members of the 59th Medical Wing Patient Squadron, a unit composed of wounded, ill and injured service members, attended a luncheon with Walker and were able to share some of their experiences.
"To actually get a one-on-one conversation with Herschel, instead of hearing him speak to everyone at once made it really special," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Crane, who is assigned to the 59th Patient Squadron. "You could tell he cared about us,"
Walker then visited patients at the WHASC's Intensive Outpatient Program, which assists members develop coping skills to better manage emotional and behavioral life challenges. He spoke openly once more about his prior issues with DID, and his decision to face himself. Walker said that only once he faced his problems, was he able to cope and begin living a happier life.
"When young people get to meet adults who have struggled with mental health issues, and have survived and thrived, it really helps destigmatize seeking help," said Capt. Liz Copeland, the 59th Mental Health Element chief .
As part of the DOD Patriot Support Program, Walker travels to military installations throughout the country to share his story, and encourage service members to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues. He has visited more than 65 installations in the past five years.