by Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/10/2015 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Professional
athlete and business owner, Herschel Walker came to Tyndall during the
Comprehensive Airman Fitness day June 5 to talk about mental health.
"One of the reasons I am here is to thank all service men and women
because they have done so much for me, also I want to make them aware of
mental health," Walker said. "It is sad that we are using this word
'mental health' like it is something bad. I want to remove that stigma
and show people that I have spent time at a hospital and I don't think I
am mentally unhealthy at all."
As a young boy, Walker grew up playing sports and eventually played
collegiate football where he became a legendary player, where he was
awarded the Heisman Trophy in his third year of college. He then moved
on to play professional football spending more than a decade in the
As a child he was bullied, overweight, had a speech impediment and had
people tell him he was not worthy, and that is what Walker became to
think of himself.
"I went through life ashamed of who I was, to a point where I decided I
was going to become this superhero character, and that is what I became
throughout my career," he said. "What was strange about that was I never
dealt with what bothered me way back then. When I got out of the game I
took that 'superhero' mentality and displayed it at home, and that was
scary to see."
This is when he realized that he had a problem and needed the courage to seek for help.
"At a point in my life I had a tough time, but we all have tough times
and we all have problems," Walker said. "We think people are crazy when
they have problems, but that is not true. Sometimes people just leave
home with the wrong hat on, so they need someone to help them put the
right hat on, and that is what I needed in my life."
Once he received help, Walker understood what was going on with him and why he needed help, he said.
"I want to encourage our men and women that there is no shame to ask for
help; I did it," he added. "There is no doubt, it is tough and it's
hard, but the outcome is going to be positive because you will
eventually see the light, but it will not be that easy. You have to
fight through it in order to make that happen.
During his visit he got to experience working with K-9 handlers and
Military Working Dogs, Air Traffic Control personnel, Mental Health
personnel and spoke to Airmen and their families about mental health and
his experiences from his own mental health during a picnic.
"I want to thank all service men and women for everything they have done
for me, and for giving me the privilege to speak to them," Walker said.
"This visit was great! I got the chance to view so many things that
show why we have the best military in the world. The military shows me
so much love and that is what I try to show them. That is why I tell
athletes today to go out and visit all service men and women, because
they are the true heroes."
Walker came to deliver a message to Team Tyndall; don't be afraid of looking for help.
"You are not less of a man or a woman if you go out and seek for help,"
he said with confidence. "To prove my case, look at me now! I am
fighting at 53 years old and beating up 20 year olds, running as fast as
I was in college, running a business and doing the same things right
now as I was back then. So that tells you that it doesn't make you less
of a person, it makes you a better person overall."