By Airman Kailee Reynolds, 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs
/ Published August 19, 2021
Herschel Walker poses with members of the 47th Medical Group on Aug. 18, 2021 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. Walker talked with the staff about mental health, how it affects air force military members and what Laughlin AFB is doing to help their members work through these struggles by providing them with multiple resources to reach out to, such as the Mental Health Clinic and family life counselors at the Airman Family Readiness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kailee Reynolds)
Herschel Walker pilots a Texan II T-6 simulator attempts to achieve lift off on Aug. 18, 2021 at Laughlin Air Force Base. The purpose was to discuss mental health, many service members and veterans suffer from mental illness and have many options for them to use to help them through those times such as the mental health clinic, military family life counselors at Airman Family Readiness Center, and the chaplain additionally, veterans can contact Veterans Affairs. (U.S. Air Force photo by David Phaff)
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeff Babb, 47th Flying Training Wing instructor pilot, introduces Herschel Walker to the new 86th Flying Training Wing Heritage Tail out on the flightline on Aug. 18, 2021, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The heritage tail was created as a symbol of the wing's history and for the purpose of boosting the morale and pride of those included in the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kailee Reynolds)
Herschel Walker talks to members of the 47th Flying Training Wing about mental health on Aug. 18th, 2021 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. Walker spoke about the importance of reaching out to others for help and taking advantage of the multiple resources provided on base, such as the Mental Health Clinic and family life counselors at the Airman Family Readiness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kailee Reynolds)
U.S. Air Force TSgt Abel Pelayo Ruelas, 47th Operations Support Squadron aerospace physiology technician, points out the rich history of the training program the squadron runs to Herschel Walker on Aug. 18, 2021 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The purpose of the program is to mentally and physically prepare student pilots for flight for their health and safety. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kailee Reynolds)
Team XL had the pleasure to host retired professional athlete Herschel Walker, best known for his football legacy. The renowned competitor visited Laughlin Air Force Base on Aug. 18th, 2021 to discuss mental health resilience and the importance of self-care.
Mr. Walker uses his own mental health journey to eliminate the stigma attached to asking for help when necessary before it is too late. Mental health issues have plagued a number of those who served in the armed forces. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 6,435 veterans took their own lives in 2018.
While there are many triggers which contribute to these terrible tragedies, emotional distress is the most prominent. Causes of this may vary whether from stressful situations at home, workplace, or in combat zones. These situations can include what you do in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy you face. All of these factors may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems.
During his visit with Airman, Mr. Walker shared that he too suffered from Dissociative identity disorder He explained that once it started to affect his personal life, his support group pushed him to seek help so he could overcome this new challenge.
“I started going to some professionals to help me cope with different things and the way they did that was to give me different things to do whether it was talking to someone, journaling, or doing pottery. That is where I started coping with things,” said Walker.
Throughout his tour, he met Airmen from all different walks of life and backgrounds, and shared the same advice and wisdom to each of them.
“You have to think about more than just yourself,’ said Walker, ‘There's someone that loves you whether it's your family or friends, and it's important to know there are people that can make you feel better.”
It’s important to raise awareness of these issues and to do what we can to insure those who need help can get the support they need. Seeking help is key whether it be from friends, family or professionals.
Resources for our service members include the mental health clinic, military family life counselors at Airman Family Readiness Center, and the chaplain. Additionally, veterans can contact Veterans Affairs at 1(800) 698-2411.
“The most important thing is admitting the truth to yourself that there's a problem that exists,” Herschel Walker imparted. “We try to hide our problems because we’re ashamed of them and try to pretend it doesn't exist; once you admit it, you can finally work to try to overcome it.”