A veteran says he was "humiliated" and "dehumanized" after a Chili's manager took away his complimentary meal following accusations by an older patron who claimed he was not a real veteran (video below).
U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker visited the Dallas Chilli’s on Nov. 11 with his service dog, KTVT reported. The restaurant was giving service men and women a complimentary meal in honor of Veterans Day.
But while Walker was eating his meal, an older man in a President-elect Donald Trump shirt approached him and asked if he was in the 24th Unit, according to a Facebook post by Walker.
“‘They didn’t let you blacks over in World War II,’ That’s exactly what he said to me, but this guy is 70-some years old,” Walker told KTVT.
Walker was then approached by the manager, who said the elderly man complained that Walker could not be a “real soldier” because he was wearing his hat indoors.
“This overzealous manager comes out, and instead of talking to me man-to-man, he treated me as if I was a black man stealing a meal,” Walker recalled. “Honestly, that’s what it looked like.
“And he said, ‘Sir, we have guests that say that you are not a military veteran.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?'”
Walker said he presented the manager, whom he later identified as Wesley Patrick, with his military identification and discharge papers.
Walker says the man should have then simply apologized and thanked him for his service. “Instead of him saying that, he says to me, ‘Well he says your service dog is not real.'”
Walker then showed his dog’s certification and started recording a video on his cell phone.
“That manager needs to be either reprimanded or fired,” Walker said.
Since posting the footage on Facebook Nov. 12, the video has been shared nearly 3,000 times. The Facebook post even prompted protests outside of the Chili’s restaurant that same day.
The chain restaurant issued the following statement, reports KXAS:
We are aware of the situation that occurred at our Chili's Cedar Hill restaurant on November 11th.
Our goal is to make every guest feel special and unfortunately we fell short on a day where we serve more than 180,000 free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans and active military for their service, hence these actions do not reflect the beliefs of our brand.
We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right. Since the incident occurred, we have extended an apology and we are reaching out to the guest.
Despite the public statement, Walker said the restaurant did not give him a personal apology.
"They're doing what they should do, but they still haven't validated me as a soldier," Walker told KTVT. "I just need him to say, 'I see your ID, I see your DD214, and I respect you as a soldier, and as a man and as a customer.’”