Anti-Stigma Campaign in Partnership with Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker—Heisman trophy winner, professional athlete, businessman and author—is the national spokesman for the Patriot Support Program. 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. Since 2008, he has made more than 300 visits to military installations to share his story of hope with more than 300,000 troops.
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 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.