Chili's apologizes after manager takes meal from veteran - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Chili's apologizes after manager takes meal from veteran

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WASHINGTON -

Chili's is apologizing after an incident with a veteran went viral over the weekend. 

47-year-old Ernest Walker said he went to Chili's on Friday because the restaurant was giving out free meals to veterans for Veterans Day. Walker said he had finished his food and was getting ready to leave when he says an elderly man told the manager Walker was not a veterans because he was wearing his hat indoors. 

The manager came over, and according to Walker, questioned his military service and his service dog, Barack, that was with Walker. Walker began filming the confrontation and provided the manager with his military ID and his discharge paperwork. 

Walker said the manager then took his to-go meal. 

"I looked around and I'm embarrassed at this point," Walker said. "People are looking. I'm a soldier. I'm a person and everybody's looking like I stole food."

Along with the video, Walker posted the following statement on his page, explaining what happened: 

"I was approached by an old white guy, maybe in his 70s, with a Trump Shirt, at Chili's on Veteran's Day yesterday. He asked if I was in the 24th unit, and I said "no the 25th". TRICK QUESTION. He said he was in Germany, and that they did not let Blacks serve over there. He left to the back, and came back and rubbed my dog Barack, who is a service dog. I was seated and eating my food. The waitress packed the rest of my food in a to go box because I had to go pick up my wife. I got my food and tipped the waitress. Then the Manager, MR. Wesley Patrick, comes from the same area in the back, walked up, and rudly informs me that a guest said that I was not a real soldier because I had my hat on indoors. Other guests heard him. He asked for my military ID, I was calm, and provided it to him. I also provided him with my DD214 which is my discharge paperwork. At that point he should have just said "I am sorry Sir, thank you for your service' Instead he followed up with "the guest also said your dog is not a service dog." Barack had his Red Service Vest on, and his Certified Service Tags. I was sitting for 35 minutes prior with Barack beforehand. At this point I was grossly offended embarrassed dehumanized and started Recording...Mr. Wesley snatched my food away, made body contact."

After the post went viral, Chili's issued the following statement: 

"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."

"They're doing what they should do, but they still haven't validated me as a soldier," said Walker. "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'."

Walker said he served in the Army's 25th Infantry Division, serving from 1987 to 1991. He said he was in an Army uniform without his name or rank on it on Veterans Day because he did not want to be mistaken for an active-duty soldier.

"And I wear this one day a year," said Walker. "I'm not some kook that's reliving the past."

Walker has retained an attorney, Kim Cole, who said she had a meeting planned with Chili's corporate on Monday. Chili's media team did not respond to questions regarding whether the manager was disciplined. 

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