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Herschel Walker, retired National Football League player and mixed martial artist, speaks to Marines and sailors at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Nov. 25.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Justin A. Rodriguez

Herschel Walker shares personal struggle

25 Nov 2013 | Lance Cpl. Justin A. Rodriguez

Even after struggling with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Herschel Walker, retired National Football League player and mixed martial artist, proved to the world he could make a difference.

Walker visited Marines, sailors and families aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for an open forum about his struggle with the disorder and his life story aboard base, Nov. 25.

His mission was to show his success wasn’t hindered by the problems he dealt with during his life. He made changes after being bullied in middle school.

“I started going to the library and my speech got better. Instead of walking around with my head down, I started to have confidence in myself. I quit being sorry for myself, so I started working out,” said Walker.

After bettering himself, Walker began to prove to naysayers he was determined to make a difference.

“After I started to have confidence, people started to see a change in me,” said Walker. “I was the valedictorian of my class freshman year. Colleges started offering me scholarships, and I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to be a Marine.”

After finishing high school, Walker followed his parents’ advice and attended Georgia State University. After debating his decision, he put his desire to serve the Marine Corps to the side.

Shortly after starting his career in the NFL, Walker realized there might be something wrong with him. His wife told him he was a different person at times.

After putting himself in a situation where he almost hurt someone, Walker realized he had a problem.

“I decided I needed help,” said Walker. “My wife and I went to a doctor, and he did everything he could to help me.” 
Walker’s visit is a powerful force for helping to reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental illnesses.

“Anyone who knows anything about sports can relate to him. Here’s a guy who excelled at everything he tried to do in life - football, baseball, mixed martial arts, business- even bobsledding. Yet he has demons, too. And despite his many successes, he eventually realized he needed help, so he went out and got it. And he’s better off for it. Another important aspect is he has the insight to realize there are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, haven’t sought the help they need. So he’s taken on the mission of helping them get the help they need,” said Navy Capt. David A. Lane, commanding officer Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune.

After being diagnosed with the disorder, Walker decided to dedicate his life to educating others.
After proving his worth and determination to the world, Walker wrote “Breaking Free: My life with Dissociative Identity Disorder,” to tell the world his story.

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