Former professional football player visits Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians
Story by 1st Lt. James Stenger
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Combine Marines who handle live explosives as a profession with one of the most profilic and exciting athletes the world has ever known and you have a recipe for an andrenaline-filled hour-long discussion.
The Marines of 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, opened their doors for Herschel Walker, Heisman Trophy winner, NFL record holder, and Celebrity Apprentice alumn, and didn’t waste any time in showing him their headquarters building, explosive ordnance library, and tools used to dismantle improvised explosive devices.
Walker visited 2nd EOD Company here Aug. 9 to deliver a short message to the Marines: “Don’t think you’re less than anyone if you ask for help.”
Walker talked about his internal struggle with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which he says he developed as a way of coping with always being told he couldn’t succeed throughout his career. He was reluctant to admit he had a problem until his ex-wife started to fear his temper.
“I realized I had a problem,” he recalled.
He told the audience about his month-long stay at a mental hospital, where he learned about his disorder and how to control it.
According to the World Health Organization, DID, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental condition that leads the victim to develop different personalities in order to cope with troubling or unsettling experiences.
After receiving a tour of the EOD headquarters from Sgt. Michael H. Bentley II, an EOD technician and Wantage, N.J., native, Walker talked with the Marines for roughly an hour. The experience was one Bentley is unlikely to forget.
“Having a guy like Herschel Walker come down here and talk to us is pretty amazing,” said Bentley. I personally know a few Marines who have had trouble after coming back from deployment and knowing that someone like Herschel Walker was man enough to admit he had a problem … I think it’s good for them to hear that.”
Walker is the current spokesperson for Freedom Care, which is “a specialized mental health and addiction treatment program for service members,” according to their web site. One of Freedom Care’s focuses is identifying and treating post traumatic stress disorder.
Walker has traveled around the United States meeting and talking with servicemembers to share his message.
When asked why he specifically reaches out to warriors, he said it’s simply because they pay the price for freedom.
“In my game, when someone gets tired, they can take the ball and go home,” he explained. He realizes that isn’t the case when you join the armed forces.
Although the visit to 2nd EOD Co. was short, Walker left the group with a smile on his face. He said he was once lost but now could physically and mentally make a comeback to the NFL, if he wanted to.
Perhaps the idea that in order to make a comeback one first needs to admit one has a problem is the greatest take away from Walker’s visit.