Army veteran Ernest Walker went to Chili’s to receive his free meal on Veterans Day, but he claims his experience was far from respectful.
In an interview with CBS Dallas News, Walker said he was humiliated after Chili’s manager Wesley Patrick snatched up his meal, saying he didn’t provide the right documentation to prove he’s a veteran.
Walker recorded the interaction with his phone and uploaded it to his Facebook page, where he explained Patrick was approached by a guest who claimed Walker was not a “real soldier” because he had his hat on indoors.
The Army veteran, who also had his service dog with him, alleged he provided his military identification to Patrick, along with his discharge paperwork, yet Patrick still didn’t believe him and took his food away.
Brinker International, which owns Chili’s, apologized in a written statement. It reads, in part:
“We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right.”
Walker said he bought his Army uniform after being discharged as a “tribute to his service,” and purposefully didn’t put either his name or any rank on the uniform so people would not assume he is an active duty soldier.
Americans have since chimed in on the matter, many of whom voiced their support for the Army vet.
Grace Ann Peters called the experience “terrible:”
“I am so sorry you had to go through this. Thank you so much for your service, as an Army wife, I totally understand the sacrifices that you and your family made to protect us.”
Jesse Kessler apologized for the lack of respect the manager gave him:
“While it is not sufficient I apologize for the ignorance and disrespect you experienced. Thank you for your service and doing for this country what others cannot. I salute you sir.”
Thousands simply thanked Walker for his service.
Walker’s attorney, Kim Cole, said Brinker apologized for the incident. The two parties plan to meet Monday to resolve the situation, in which Walker plans to file assault charges against the manager for making “physical contact” when taking away his free meal.