Leading Georgia Senate candidate and NFL legend Herschel Walker has a shady-as-hell past, but so far none of it has made a damn bit of difference to GOP voters. The latest piece in his convoluted narrative is his affiliation with a veterans program that he’s bragged about doing work with—a program with its own shady-as-hell history.
Walker has lied about graduating from the University of Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He’s exaggerated his business acumen. He once held a gun to his now ex-wife’s head, telling her he was going to “blow [her] f---ing brains out.” He once hawked an “FDA-approved spray” that he claimed “will clean you of COVID.” And he questioned the science of evolution, challenging the notion of ongoing species diversification by positing that if apes and humans coexist, there must be no evolution. Now it seems a program he claims to have founded has been duping veterans.
According to the Associated Press, the former Heisman Trophy winner has repeatedly told the tale that he founded or co-founded the organization Patriot Support, a for-profit program offered by Universal Health Services (UHS), a behemoth chain of health care and hospital facilities.
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“Patriot Support Programs of UHS is composed of 19 facilities providing quality, specialized care to our active duty service members, veterans, and their families,” the organization’s website reads.
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The Associated Press reports that in an interview with Hugh Hewitt last October, Walker said that he’d “started a program called Patriot Support” about “15 years ago.” He told Savannah TV station WTGS in February: “People need to know I started a military program, a military program that treats (thousands) of soldiers a year.”
In 2020, a $122 million settlement was reached between the Department of Justice and UHS after a federal lawsuit accused the chain of “billing for medically unnecessary inpatient behavioral health services, failing to provide adequate and appropriate services, and paying illegal inducements to federal health care beneficiaries.”
According to court documents uncovered by AP, veterans and service members were specifically targeted by UHS, which hired “military liaisons” to groom military medical staff in order to “maximize the flow of military patients.”
“UHS engaged in an aggressive campaign ... to market its ‘Patriot Support program,’” a UHS whistleblower who ran the admissions program in a Utah hospital said in 2014.
The reality is Walker isn’t a founder or co-founder of Patriot Support; he’s simply the face of it. The program was started 11 years before Walker came on board. He was paid a healthy $331,000 in 2021 to be its spokesperson, according to the Associated Press.
According to AP, during a campaign stop on Saturday, Walker called the allegations against Patriot Support a “concern,” but also questioned their validity.
Even after being confronted by reporters as recently as last Saturday about his real involvement in Patriot Support, Walker admitted he didn’t create the program—but mentioned that he did create Ascend Health’s Freedom Care in 2007. However, the Associated Press followed up and found that Ascend was launched in 2006, and an old website listed Walker only as a spokesperson. Upon further research, the Associated Press found that Walker didn’t really even join Ascend until two years after it launched, in 2008.
But despite ongoing revelations about Walker’s past, he’s beloved in Georgia. He’s a football hero, and he’s endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Whit Ayres, a Georgia-based GOP strategist, described Walker to the Associated Press as “a God.”
“There are still kids who will wear Herschel Walker’s football jerseys some 40 years after he played for the University of Georgia. So negative information will be heard with a heavy dose of skepticism,” Ayres said. “That doesn’t mean that some allegations won’t penetrate somewhat, but they won’t do anywhere near as much damage as to a normal candidate.”
And in case you were wondering where Walker stands on reproductive rights: He’s in full support of banning abortions.
“There’s no exception in my mind … Like I say, I believe in life. I believe in life,” Walker said, according to The Hill.
In April, the former Dallas Cowboy received an endorsement from National Right to Life.
Carol Tobias, the organization's president, told The Hill that Walker will be “a most effective champion for unborn babies and their mothers in Washington and he has demonstrated the passion and perseverance it takes to win the critically important Georgia Senate race.
“Georgia deserves a pro-life senator like Herschel Walker who is committed to building a culture of life. … Walker’s stance for life stands in stark contrast to the out-of-touch record of Warnock who supports abortion for any reason until birth,” Tobias added.