Anti-Stigma Campaign in Partnership with Herschel Walker

Herschel WalkerHerschel Walker—Heisman trophy winner, professional athlete, businessman and author—is the Patriot Support Programs of UHS national spokesman. Herschel has broken free from his own struggles related to 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, Herschel has visited numerous military installations and shared his story with thousands of service members and families of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. He has also made individual visits to warriors hospitalized after being wounded in battle.

Herschel’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. At the University of Georgia, he 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, Herschel gave up his final year of collegiate eligibility and turned professional, joining the New Jersey Generals of the short-lived United States Football League. He dominated the league, earning Most Valuable Player honors and setting the single-season pro football rushing record (2,411 yards). After his first pro season, he finished his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at the University of Georgia. Herschel joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1986, where he led the entire NFL in rushing and earned All-Pro honors. He moved to the Minnesota Vikings as starting running back in 1989. In 1992, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to the Cowboys in 1996. He retired from the NFL in 1997 as one of the top running backs in the league, having gained more yards than anyone in professional football history (counting his seasons in both the NFL and USFL). He finished his professional career with a 8,225 yards and 61 rushing touchdowns. He caught 512 passes for 4,859 yards and 21 scores.

Herschel 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 selected as the second greatest player in college football history, just behind the legendary Red Grange.

In 2008, Touchstone Hardcover Books published Herschel’s memoir, BREAKING FREE: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. After its release, Herschel became a spokesman for mental health and addiction treatment for service members

Herschel’s athletic career sparked nationwide interest in 2010 and 2011 when he joined STRIKEFORCE and made his mixed martial arts debut with a 2-0 record. His mixed martial arts career has connected him to younger service members.

On March 2, 2011, Herschel was presented with SGMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his commitment to promoting physical education and active lifestyles in America.

Recent Appearances

NFL Legend and Mental Health Advocate Herschel Walker Speaks to our Nation’s Military

(8 min.)

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.”

- Herschel Walker, June 2020

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.

Service Centers

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.