Herschel Walker: Don’t be afraid to get help

Herschel Walker, former professional football player, signs a football helmet for Master Sgt. Adam Johnson, 647th Security Forces Squadron, after talking with Airmen about the importance of mental health care at the Hickam Memorial Theater, Sept. 6. Photo by 1st Lt. Kaitlin Daddona

1st Lt. Avery Larkin

15th Wing Public Affairs

No matter how tough you are, it is always okay to reach out and seek help when dealing with a personal issue or mental illness.

Herschel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy and played professional football for 15 years, shared how he learned that lesson in a speech here, Sept. 6, at the Hickam Memorial Theater.

Though Walker had a successful football career, he struggled with unpredictable anger throughout his adult life. Walker’s condition was severe enough that he considered killing people over minor disagreements. It was then Walker knew he needed help.

“I didn’t understand what was going on with me, but what scared me was I could have killed my wife,” he said. “Not getting help put her in danger.”

Walker was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, a condition in which someone has the presence of two or more personalities with unique characteristics. He acknowledged getting treatment was difficult, but claimed it led him to a better life.

“Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. You’re stronger for getting the help you need,” Walker said. “If I didn’t get help, I wouldn’t be the man and father I am today. I am better now.”

Walker encouraged military members who are considering getting help to do so for themselves and their loved ones.

“Don’t be afraid to get help,” he said. “Taking care of yourself will help you and the people you love.”

Col. Kevin Gordon, 15th Wing commander, thanked Walker for sharing his story and encouraging others to seek help.

“The great thing about this forum is somebody is going to get help,” Gordon said. “We may not know who it is, but someone is going to get help because you were here today.”

Walker’s speech also introduced Fight for Each Other, a series of talks from people directly impacted by suicide to raise awareness about mental health and encourage seeking help early. Talks will be held at several military installations on Oahu throughout September.

For more information on suicide prevention and helping agencies available to service members and their families, contact the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fleet and Family Support Center at 474-1999.

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Category: News