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Did Herschel Walker misrepresent his record on veterans, graduation and law enforcement? Yes.
If Your Time is short
Walker said he treated 4,500 veterans per year. He was employed as a spokesperson for a company that treated veterans.
Walker said he was “in the top 1% of my graduating class in college.” The University of Georgia told PolitiFact he did not graduate from the school.
Walker said he worked for law enforcement, but did not.
Aiming to re-elect Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran a series of three social media ads calling Republican Herschel Walker a liar.
In a series of ads, the group claimed that the former football legend "lied" about "personally treating 4,500 veterans per year"; about "graduating from college"; and about "working in law enforcement."
The committee cited to PolitiFact examples of Walker making the statements and news reports indicating that his statements are false.
Walker’s campaign did not reply to our emails.
As to whether Walker lied, PolitiFact can’t speak to Walker’s motives, but the record shows he has misrepresented his experience and credentials on multiple occasions.
In a 2017 interview with Craig Carton, a New York sports radio talk show host, Walker spoke about personally "treating" 4,500 to 5,000 soldiers per year. That gives the impression he was involved in medical care. However, his work involved visiting military bases as a spokesperson for Patriot Support, a for-profit program that’s part of the Universal Health Services hospital chain.
Here’s an exchange from the interview, in which Walker alluded to his work with Patriot Support:
Walker: "My love, and a lot of people don’t know this, for the last eight years, I’ve been treating soldiers. So, I’m at a base, once a month anywhere in the world, and we treat about 4,500 soldiers a year. And one thing — "
Carton: "What do mean by ‘you treat them?’"
Walker: "For any type of illness that they have, from traumatic brain injuries or any type of things like that, and I've been doing it now for eight years."
Several minutes later, Walker repeated: "I'm treating about (4,500) to 5,000 soldiers a year."
In other speeches and interviews, Walker made it clear he was a spokesperson. In one talk, Walker said, "I will speak to an average of between 50 to a thousand people while I’m at the base" and in other talks he referred to the program being part of a hospital system. In some instances, Walker said he created the program.
Walker’s campaign website says he was "appointed spokesman for Universal Health Services’ Patriot Support Program where he has visited hundreds of military bases sharing his personal story to help remove stigmas around mental health."
The Associated Press reported on a lawsuit the Justice Department and nearly two dozen states brought against Universal Health Services. Prosecutors alleged that Universal Health Services and its affiliates pushed people with government-sponsored insurance into inpatient mental health care to drive revenue.
Universal Health Services reached a $122 million settlement in 2020 with the Department of Justice and the coalition of states. The company denied the government’s allegations.
The VoteVets political action committee has run ads attacking Walker over his work for Patriot Support.
In response to one of the group’s ads, Walker’s campaign said the allegations against Universal Health Services "had absolutely nothing to do with Herschel."
Walker has said that he graduated from the University of Georgia, where he was a star running back before playing in the United States Football League and later the National Football League, but that’s not true.
On the "Sway in the Morning" SiriusXM radio talk show on Feb. 7, 2017, Walker talked about his support of then-President Donald Trump. Then he said:
"Well, I think one thing we have to know, and this is for this country. Donald Trump is our leader. And people say, ‘Hersch, you played football,’ but I said, ‘Guys, I also was valedictorian of my class. I also was in the top 1% of my graduating class in college.’"
Walker’s campaign website on Dec. 16, 2021, posted that Walker graduated from the University of Georgia, but removed the reference hours later, after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution inquired about it, the newspaper reported.
The University of Georgia confirmed to PolitiFact that Walker did not graduate. He attended the school for three years.
Walker has said he worked in law enforcement, but in response to news stories refuting his statements, his campaign has said that he supports law enforcement.
In a 2019 speech at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, Walker related an incident in which he got angry at a man over a car. He said:
"I grabbed a gun. I worked for the (unintelligible) law enforcement. Y'all didn't know that either, did you? I spent time at Quantico at the FBI training schools. Y'all didn't know I was an agent? I probably shouldn't tell y'all that. Y’all don’t care about that. Yeah, I’ve been in law enforcement."
Walker told the same story in a 2017 speech at the U.S. Army’s Fort Benning in Georgia, saying he was able to carry a gun because "I was working with law enforcement" and had "my FBI clearance."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June reported on Walker’s 2019 speech and his other claims of working in law enforcement, including telling police in Texas in 2000 that he was a "certified police officer."
The newspaper said the claims were not true. Walker’s campaign told the Journal-Constitution that Walker was an honorary deputy in Cobb County along with three other Georgia counties that the campaign did not specify. The newspaper said the Cobb County Police Department said it had no record of involvement with Walker and the Cobb Sheriff’s Office could not say whether he was an honorary deputy.
In response to the Atlanta newspaper story, a Walker campaign spokesperson said that Walker majored in criminal justice at the University of Georgia and "has supported and worked with law enforcement for years, including speaking to police about mental health, leading women’s self-defense training, participating in the FBI Academy at Quantico."
PolitiFact could not reach either Cobb County agency or the FBI for comment on Walker.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee claimed that Walker misled about "personally treating 4,500 veterans per year," about "graduating from college" and about "working in law enforcement."
Walker incorrectly said he treated 4,500 veterans. Walker did not graduate from college or work in law enforcement, contrary to his claims.
We don’t know what motivated Walker, but we know he has misrepresented his experience and credentials.
We rate the claim True.
RELATED: Fact-checking ads in the 2022 election campaigns
RELATED: Raphael Warnock’s PolitiFact file
RELATED: Herschel Walker’s PolitiFact file
Meta, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad about Herschel Walker and veterans, Sept. 16 to Oct. 2, 2022
Meta, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad about Herschel Walker and college, Sept. 16 to Oct. 1, 2022
Meta, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ad about Herschel Walker and law enforcement, Sept. 17 to Oct. 2, 2022
Email, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Amanda Sherman, Sept. 27, 2022
Salon, "‘From valedictorian to "honorary deputy’: 5 times Herschel Walker was caught inflating his resume," June 15, 2022
YouTube, National Treasure Archive "Boomer and Carton - Interview with Herschel Walker" post, (3:30; 8:40) Feb. 3, 2017
YouTube, GA Senate 2022 "Walker - Patriot Support" post, (1:20) July 15, 2022
YouTube, Ezekiel Jones "Herschel Walker the Legend inspirational speech" post, (1:05) Jan 25, 2017
YouTube, Sway’s Universe "Herschel Walker Explains Why He Supports Donald Trump" post, (8:00) Feb. 7, 2017
YouTube, VoteVets "VoteVets - Purple Heart" ad, Jul 13, 2022
YouTube, VoteVets "VoteVets - Charity (30 seconds)" ad, June 9, 2022
YouTube, Team Punchbowl News "Warnock ad highlights Walker's FBI and law enforcement lies" post, Aug. 1, 2022
TeamHerschel.com, "Setting the record straight on Warnock’s false and misleading attack ad," June 13, 2022
TeamHerschel.com, About page, accessed Oct. 3, 2022
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, "DSCC statement on bombshell report that Herschel Walker lied about Charitable Donations," Sept. 23, 2022
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Herschel Walker’s campaign falsely claimed he graduated from college," Dec. 17, 2021
CNN, "GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker has been overstating his academic achievements for years," April 1, 2022
Vimeo, Fort Benning Television "Herschel Walker EPK" 2017 post, (32:00) accessed Oct. 3, 2022
YouTube, JBLMEMC "Herschel Walker Talk at JBLM" post (36:30), Sept. 11, 2019
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Herschel Walker said he worked in law enforcement — he didn’t," June 13, 2022
Washington Post, "As Herschel Walker’s GOP profile rises, the falsehoods mount," June 14, 2022
Email, University of Georgia spokesperson Gregory Trevor, Oct. 4, 2022
Associated Press, "Herschel Walker’s ties to veterans program face scrutiny," May 21, 2022
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Did Herschel Walker misrepresent his record on veterans, graduation and law enforcement? Yes.
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