Herschel Walker visits Laughlin Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Airman Kailee Reynolds
  • 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

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.”