Herschel Walker shares personal struggles, inspires MacDill Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Throughout his entire life, former NFL running back, Herschel Walker, saw his share of success and triumph, but it was his struggles off the gridiron that make him an inspiration today.

Walker visited MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 14 and 15 to speak with Airmen about his battle with dissociate identity disorder, detailing his personal mental health issues and how he has persevered to overcome his demons. Throughout the past 11 years, Walker visited more than 300 military bases to share his story with personnel and give thanks for the sacrifices of the men and women in the Department of Defense.

“Walker spent time with the Airman Leadership School during their PT session Wednesday to speak on mental toughness in training,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Matthew Orlando, the ALS commandant. “He spoke how the military never trains to lose the battle and the importance of maintaining the leadership mentality.”

After playing 15 years in the NFL, Walker’s now ex-wife, Cindy, made him aware of the changes in his behavior over the years.

“My wife feared that I one day might kill her,” said Walker. “Whenever she tried to talk to me, I just didn’t listen.”

Cindy was able to convince Walker to begin treatment, first through religion and a church in Texas. Walked really began to progress when he met with a doctor from Africa who was able to identify his affliction.

“He asked me if I ever drew or wrote in journals, and I had been writing since I was a child. Luckily, my mom kept everything I had written,” said Walker. “All I ever wrote about since I was a child was hurting others, I never wrote about joy or anything happy.”

Walker was admitted to a mental health facility in California to receive treatment and therapy for his disorder. It was at the hospital where Walker realized he was no different than any of the other patients seeking help alongside him. Accepting therapy and growing to recognize, understand, and combat his behaviors and emotions allowed him to overcome his struggles and find joy in life.

“There’s no shame in asking for help, but you’ve got to have faith that you can persevere,” said Walker. “There’re people out there who can help you overcome that pain, by being willing to sacrifice.”

Walker travels to bases all over the world to share his love for the military and show that anyone can overcome their personal demons.

Though Herschel Walker no longer faces defenders in the NFL, he continues to stand up to the personal demons that tormented him. Through his own example, he hopes to inspire others to overcome their personal struggles with mental illnesses by seeking help and building resiliency.