Football Legend Encourages Soldiers To Get Help For PTSD
At 50 years old, Herschel Walker looks like he could still slice up National Football League defenses like he did in his pro football days.
Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner and college football Hall of Fame inductee, visited Fort Drum Thursday to spread his message that it's okay to get help for mental illness.
"I heard my father talking about, when I was young, talking about he never lifted weights, always did pushups and sit-ups, and he could do just about anything," Sgt. Michael Thomas said.
Walker said he used football as a way to avoid dealing with reality.
"When I was getting out of football, getting out of certain things, I didn't have that coping mechanism anymore," Walker said.
"So now the illness is going to start showing itself."
Walker was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder after he retired.
He says his illness is not related to the number of hits be took in football..
"There's a difference between concussions and depression," he said. "They've got to determine what it is."
Walker is now an advocate -- speaking at military bases and posts -- hoping to help soldiers who may be suffering through issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"The basic message is: don't be ashamed to ask for help," he said. "I did, and you're not less of a person."
Judging from the reaction: mission accomplished.
"It's very inspiring," said Staff Sgt. Natalie Woughter. "My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic and, to me, I'm always looking for something to inspire me in life."
Fort Drum is one of many stops for Walker as he travels the country spreading his message.
Although it's not final, the plan is to have the football legend back sometime soon.
Thursday, May 23, 2013, Watertown, NY
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