News>Football legend Herschel Walker visits Wilford Hall
Herschel Walker, center, signs an autograph for Tech. Sgt. Christopher Barker, 59th Medical Wing Patient Squadron, and his father Daniel Barker during a recent visit to the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Oct. 23, 2013, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Earlier in the day, Barker was presented with the distinguished Purple Heart for wounds sustained in action. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)
Herschel Walker, right, speaks to Airmen from the 59th Medical Wing Patient Squadron during a lunch at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Oct. 23, 2013, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Walker has visited more than 60 military installations sharing his personal experiences with mental illness in support of the Patriot Support Program’s Anti-stigma campaign. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)
Herschel Walker speaks to more than 200 personnel from the 59th Medical Wing at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Oct. 23, 2013, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. As part of the Department of Defense Patriot Support Program’s Anti-stigma campaign, Walker visits military installations across the country to encourage service members to seek help for mental health and substance abuse issues. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)
Herschel Walker signs an autograph for Senior Master Sgt. Oren Sieff, 59th Surgical Operations Squadron Superintendant, Oct. 23, 2013 in the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center auditorium, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chelsea Browning)
by Nathan Simmons
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
10/23/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Heisman Trophy winner and former pro running back Herschel Walker visited Airmen from the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Oct. 23.
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 (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 first-hand 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 comprised 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. You could tell he cared about us," said SSgt. Daniel Crane, who is assigned to the 59th Patient Squadron.
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 de-stigmatize seeking help," said 59th Mental Health Element Chief Capt. Liz Copeland.
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.