A U.S. Army veteran says the manager of a Cedar Hill, Texas, Chili's restaurant took away his free Veterans Day meal after a fellow customer questioned his status as a former soldier.
Ernest Walker took to Facebook on Friday to share a video along with a description of the incident, where it has since racked up nearly half a million views.
"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 wrote. "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."
Walker, who was accompanied by his service dog Barack, said that the manager, Wesley Patrick, then approached him and told him that another guest said he "was not a real soldier because I had my hat on indoors."
"He asked for my military ID, I was calm, and provided it to him,"Walker wrote. "I also provided him with my DD214 which is my discharge paperwork."
Unfortunately, this did nothing to convince the manager that Walker was an actual veteran.
"Instead he followed up with 'the guest also said your dog is not a service dog,'" Walker wrote. "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."
In response to the incident, Brinker International, which owns Chili's, said in a statement to KDFW: "Our goal is to make every guest feel special and, unfortunately, we fell short on a day where we serve free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans. We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right."
But it seems the apology came too little too late -- furious readers have inundated the company's Facebook page with one-star reviews and requests for the manager to be fired.
And for the record, here is a photo of Walker from his time in the service. "Served Proudly 25th Infantry Division Tropic Lightning," his touching caption reads. "I was only 16 and homeless I had ran away from home at 13 and slept in 23 different houses when a recruiter saw me sleeping behind a Kroger and I sign up and it SAVED MY LIFE !!!!!"
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