Heisman Trophy winner talks mental health issues with Soldiers Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 March 2013
By Robert Johnson
Managing editor
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Former Georgia Bulldog and National Football League running back Herschel Walker visited Fort Leonard Wood on March 7 to share his message on coping with mental health issues.

Following a tour of the installation, where he visited with dozens of Soldiers, watched combatives training and enjoyed lunch at a dining facility, Walker spoke to a crowd of several hundred in the Abrams Theater.
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pitts, Company F, 795th Military Police Battalion drill sergeant, explains combatives training to Heisman Trophy winner and retired NFL star Herschel Walker on March 7. Photo by Ryan Thompson

Walker urged those in the audience to not hesitate to seek help. Weaving his message with examples of his own life, his football accomplishments and some humor, Walker talked about the dark side of his life that controlled much of his daily activities.

Walker explained that as a child, he had speech issues and was often picked on by classmates. It was this adversity that he channeled to become one of the all-time great college football players.     

“You can never give up,” he told the audience. “When you get knocked down in life, you have to have faith, and you have to get back up.”

The theme of his talk, “There is no shame in getting help; I did,” was reflected often in his frank discussion of challenges in his life.

“I came to a point in my life where I realized that I was several personalities,” Walker said. “One of these personalities seemed bent on destruction.”

Walker described how his own Family had difficulties dealing with some of his issues and urged him to seek professional help — issues that he himself could not see.    

“It was part of me, and yet, it wasn’t part of me. It was like they were talking about someone else, but I came to understand that it was who I had become,” he said.

Walker sought out mental health professionals and began a process to heal and correct his own behavior.

“There is no shame in asking for help,” he said. “No matter how tough you might think you are, there is no shame in seeking help. It will not make you less of a person.”    

Interspersed in his message of seeking professional help, Walker told the audience how random chances and faith led him from a small town in Georgia to the Dallas Cowboys, while winning college football’s top honor, the Heisman Trophy, along the way.

“I literally flipped a coin. I wanted to become a Marine, but my mom wanted me to go to college, so I flipped a coin. First time, it came up ‘go to college,’ so I thought ‘best three out of five’ and the next two flips, it came up ‘go to college,’ so I decided to go to college,” Walker said.

When it came time to decide on a college, Walker again said he used the coin flip to decide; followed by a coin flip his junior year after winning the Heisman Trophy to leave the University of Georgia and play professional football in the USFL.

Walker played professional ball for three years in the USFL for the New Jersey Generals, a team owned by Donald Trump.    

Later, when the USFL folded, Walker was drafted by the Cowboys. He also played for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants before returning to the Cowboys to finish his career.

Walker has visited more than 50 military installations sharing his message of hope and seeking to help thousands of wounded warriors and service members.

Following his talk, Walker answered questions from the audience and signed autographs for fans before departing the installation.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 March 2013 )