Anti-Stigma Campaign in Partnership with Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker, Heisman trophy winner, professional athlete, businessperson and author, is the national spokesperson for the Patriot Support Programs of Universal Health Services (UHS). Walker has broken free from his own mental illness and now provides emotional and motivational support to service members, veterans and military families by conducting public speaking engagements at military installations nationwide.
Since 2008, Walker has visited numerous military installations and shared his story with thousands of service members and families including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. He has also made individual visits to warriors hospitalized after being wounded in battle.
Walker’s message to service members and their families is simple: “There is no shame in getting help. I did.”
Herschel Walker’s Biography
Herschel Walker was born March 3, 1962, and grew up in Wrightsville, GA.
Walker’s collegiate football career is legendary. At the University of Georgia, Walker set an NCAA freshman rushing record and helped capture the national collegiate football title. He earned consensus All-American honors three consecutive years, set 10 NCAA records, 15 Southeast Conference records, 30 Georgia all-time records, and capped a sensational college career by earning the 1982 Heisman Trophy in his junior year.
In 1983, Walker gave up his final year of collegiate eligibility and turned professional, joining the New Jersey Generals of the short-lived United States Football League (USFL). Walker dominated the league, earning Most Valuable Player honors and setting the single-season pro football rushing record (2,411 yards). After his first professional season, he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Georgia. Walker joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1986, where he led the NFL in rushing and earned All-Pro honors. He then moved to the Minnesota Vikings as starting running back in 1989. In 1992, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles but returned to the Dallas Cowboys in 1996, later retiring from the NFL in 1997. Walker was one of the top running backs in the league, gaining more yards than anyone in professional football history, counting his seasons in both the NFL and USFL. He finished his professional career with a total of 8,225 yards and 61 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 512 passes for 4,859 yards and 21 scores.
Walker has worked with numerous charitable and educational organizations. In 1981, he became the first Academy of Achievement honor student to return to the annual program as a recipient of the Golden Plate Award. In 2002, he was voted into the Collegiate Football Hall of Fame, and was selected as the second greatest player in college football history, just behind the legendary Red Grange.
In 2008, Touchstone Hardcover books, a division of Simon & Schuster, published Walker’s memoir, “BREAKING FREE: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.”
Following the release of his memoir, Walker became a spokesperson for mental health and addiction treatment program for service members. Since 2008, Walker has made over 400 visits to military installations sharing his story of hope with more than 200,000 troops. And he continues to give back. In 2014, Walker won Rachel Ray’s celebrity cooking competition and donated the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Walker’s athletic career sparked nationwide interest in 2010-2011 when he joined Strikeforce and made his mixed martial arts debut with a 2-0 record. His mixed martial arts career connected him to younger service members.
On March 2, 2011, Walker was presented with the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his commitment to promoting physical education and active lifestyles in America.”
In 2017, Walker was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame and was also honored with the Doak Walker Legends Award.
Today, Walker is President and Chief Executive Officer of H. Walker Enterprises, LLC (HWE) and Renaissance Man Food Services, LLC (RMFS), a certified minority business enterprise that supplies poultry, pork and bakery products to the food service and retail marketplace.
In 2021, Herschel will be elected into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. The Association bears the name of the renowned author Horatio Alger, Jr., whose tales of overcoming adversity through unyielding perseverance and basic moral principles captivated the public in the late 19th century. The organization serves to inspire Americans to reach their highest potential, hereby strengthening American society as a whole.
Questions from Service Members on Behavioral Health: A video interview with Herschel Walker
Patriot Support Programs of UHS provide treatment for active duty military, veterans and their families. Programs and services are specifically designed to address the effects of combat stress, post-traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse and other behavioral health issues. Enjoy this video interview with Herschel Walker conducted by Mike Tacke, CEO, The Vines Hospital located in Ocala, Florida. Mike is also a former Green Beret with the U.S. Army Special Forces.
NFL Legend and Mental Health Advocate Herschel Walker Speaks to our Nation’s Military
UHS has a long-standing commitment to serving the behavioral health needs of the military, including active duty service members, veterans and their families. In 2019, we cared for over 7,500 service members through our Patriot Support Programs. We are proud to work with Herschel Walker, former NFL player and mental health advocate. Walker has made over 300 visits to military installations across the U.S. and abroad, sharing his anti-stigma messaging to our Nation’s active duty and veteran military.
“To all the men and women of service, thank you so much for making this the greatest country in the world. Thank you for all you have done for America.”
Centers of Excellence
In a collaborative effort with the military to better address the behavioral health needs of active duty personnel, UHS has designated 12 behavioral health facilities as Patriot Support Centers of Excellence. Each of these facilities operates a dedicated unit for military personnel with an emphasis on maintaining close communication with military base commanders. Our goal is to help service members honorably return to duty or civilian life, whichever is deemed appropriate by Command.
Patriot Support Programs of UHS are one facet of a multi-pronged approach to serve the needs of active duty service members, veterans and their families. In addition to our 12 Centers of Excellence, 13 other facilities have been designated as Patriot Support Service Centers. These facilities meet the same high standards set for our Centers of Excellence, but do not have a dedicated unit on campus.
In total, Patriot Support Programs of UHS is composed of 25 facilities providing quality, specialized care to our active duty service members, veterans and their families.
Find a Patriot Support Center Near You
If you or a loved one needs help from a Patriot Support Center of Excellence, find the location nearest you and contact them today. For immediate assistance, please call our national resource line at 1-888-505-1475.