BREAKING: AP Finds Walker Made A Fortune From For-Profit Hospital Chain That Preyed On Veterans, Service Members

May 21, 2022

Today, the Associated Press released a bombshell report that found U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker made a fortune last year from a private hospital chain as spokesman for a for-profit program that preyed on veterans and service members. 

Walker claimed to have founded a program that treated thousands of soldiers, the latest in a series of exaggerations from his “dramatically inflated…record as a businessman” to “untrue” claims about his academic success.

Read the report here:

Herschel Walker’s ties to veterans program face scrutiny

Associated Press, Brian Slodysko, 5/21/22

  • In interviews and campaign appearances, the former Dallas Cowboy and Heisman Trophy winner takes credit for founding, co-founding and sometimes operating a program called Patriot Support. The program, he says, has taken him to military bases all over the world.
  • “About fifteen years ago, I started a program called Patriot Support,” Walker said in an interview with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt last October. “People need to know I started a military program, a military program that treats (thousands) of soldiers a year,” he told Savannah TV station WTGS in February.
  • But corporate documents, court records and Senate disclosures reviewed by The Associated Press tell a more complicated story. Together they present a portrait of a celebrity spokesman who overstated his role in a for-profit program that is alleged to have preyed upon veterans and service members while defrauding the government.
  • The revelation marks the latest example of a far more complex reality that lies beneath the carefully curated autobiography Walker has pitched to voters.
  • Walker’s campaign would not make him available for an interview.
  • Even before entering the race, Walker drew attention for his past mental health struggles, including allegations that he threatened his ex-wife’s life. He’s dramatically inflated his record as a businessman, as the AP previously reported. And his claim that he graduated at the top of his class from the University of Georgia, where he led the Bulldogs to a 1980 championship, was also untrue. He didn’t graduate, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported.
  • Well before his candidacy, Walker received plaudits for his work with Patriot Support. His visits to bases were touted in military press releases. And in 2014, as a celebrity contestant on a Food Network game show, Walker won a $50,000 prize to donate to his charity of choice, Patriot Support.
  • But Patriot Support is not a charity. It’s a for-profit program specifically marketed to veterans that is offered by Universal Health Services, one of the largest hospital chains in the U.S. Walker wasn’t the program’s founder, either. It was created 11 years before Universal Health Services says it hired Walker as a spokesman, which paid him a salary of $331,000 last year.
  • And the $50,000 prize he earned from the Food Network didn’t go to Patriot Support, but was instead donated to a Paralympic Veterans program in Patriot Support’s name.
  • Court documents, meanwhile, offer a far more troubling picture of its care for veterans and service members.
  • A sprawling civil case brought against Universal Health Services by the Department of Justice and nearly two dozen states alleges that Patriot Support was part of a broader effort by the company to defraud the government.
  • Prosecutors allege Universal Health Services and its affiliates aggressively pushed those with government-sponsored insurance into inpatient mental health care to drive revenue. That’s because, unlike typical private insurers, government plans do not limit the duration of hospital stays for psychiatric care so long as specific criteria are met, making such patients more profitable, the government alleged.
  • To achieve this end, the company pushed staff at its mental health facilities to misdiagnose patients and falsify documents in order to hospitalize those who did not require it, according to court records. In other cases, they failed to discharge those who no longer needed hospitalization, according to the DOJ.
  • A lengthy 2016 investigation by the website BuzzFeed included interviews with former patients, including a veteran, who said they went to Universal Health Services seeking a consultation or counseling only to find themselves held in inpatient care, sometimes against their will.
  • Veterans and service members were a specific focus, according to court documents.
  • The company hired “military liaisons” to visit bases and develop relationships with military medical staff, treatment facility commanders and clinicians, court documents state.
  • “To maximize the flow of military patients, UHS engaged in an aggressive campaign … to market its ‘Patriot Support program,’” a company whistleblower who ran the admissions program at a Utah hospital stated in a 2014 court document.
  • As a celebrity spokesman, Walker was part of the public relations blitz.
  • The company reached a $122 million settlement in 2020 with the Department of Justice and the coalition of states.
  • The company declined to renew his contract this year and a detailed biography of Walker was removed from the Patriot Support website.
  • “Herschel Walker served as national spokesperson for our Anti-Stigma campaign from 2010 to 2021,” Crawford, the company spokeswoman, said in a statement. “As a mental health advocate, Mr. Walker shared his personal journey to raise awareness and encourage others to seek help. He is no longer contracted with Universal Health Services.”


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