Herschel Walker: No shame in asking for help

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

Famous for his exceptional career as a running back at the University of Georgia and in the NFL, Herschel Walker visited Barksdale, July 11-12.

Unbeknownst to many, the Heisman Trophy winner of 1982 and Dallas Cowboys player had been suffering deep within.

Walker came here to tell Airmen about his suffering and express the importance of there being no shame in asking for help.

“I don’t care how big a man or how great a woman you are, there are some things you can’t do yourself,” said Walker.

Nobody knew Walker wasn’t alright, but off the field he started acting strangely, even writing about hurting or killing people.

“When my wife told me she was sometimes afraid of me, I remember thinking, ‘she’s afraid of me, and I don’t know what’s going on. That’s not me. That’s not Herschel Walker. That can’t be me,’” said Walker.

Walker then sought out help from his pastor and doctor who he was diagnosed him with Dissociative Identity Disorder. DID is when a person has the presence of one or more personalities that can have their own unique characteristics. After being diagnosed, Walker began going to group sessions to receive help.

“I asked for assistance at a crucial time in my life, and I know if I had not asked for help at that time, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Walker.

Before going to college, he wanted to be a U.S. Marine. The only reason he didn’t enlist was he was undecided between college and the military and let his fate be decided by a coin toss.

“I always admired relatives who were Marines,” said Walker. “I watched how they carried themselves. I wanted to be like them.”

Walker used this family tie as a reason to start touring military installations around the world to talk about how important it is to seek help when needed.

“You can only walk in the darkness for so long before you bump into a wall, but as long as you go to someone who has a flashlight, you’ll be ok,” said Walker

Walker now works with Patriot Support and retired Chief Master Sgt. Andrew R. Laning Jr., Military Programs director.

“The Patriot Support Program has 25 hospitals for Active Duty and Veterans for behavioral health,” said Laning.

While at Barksdale, Walker was able to inspire and motivate Airmen, whether it be for his message or his football accolades.

“He’s an inspiration for a lot of people because of where he came from and what he has accomplished,” said Senior Airman Matthew Grave, 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief.

While military members aren’t playing for a championship, they’re part of a very important group or as Walker would describe them, “team.”

“The U.S. Military is the best team in the world,” he explained. “Specifically, the Air Force can drop bombs from the sky, like a quarterback throwing a pass, but the receivers [or enemies] don’t want to catch this pass.”

And when the Air Force has Airmen who can’t complete the pass and don’t ask for help, the team suffers, but like the message Walker has relayed to Team Barksdale, Airmen shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for help.

On base, some resources Airmen can turn to for help include Airman and Family Readiness Center, Military One Source and Mental Health.

For more information on Patriot Support, visit http://patriotsupportprogram.com/