Chili’s Under Fire After Vet Who Showed Identification Refused Free Meal on Veterans Day
Politics| | By Brian Delpozo
Like many U.S. restaurants, the Chili’s chain offered military vets free meals on Veterans Day as a way to say thank you for their service. However, the manager of a Dallas-area location has come under scrutiny after refusing to honor the promotion for a black veteran, even after the man had shown proper identification.
Army Veteran Ernest Walker was waiting for a takeout order at the restaurant with his service dog on Friday. Initially, the staff gave him no issues. However, according to Walker a customer wearing a Donald Trump shirt began accusing him of impersonating a military officer, commonly known as “stolen valor.”
“[He] asked me what unit did I serve in the 24th, I said no the 25th. He said he was in World War 2 in Germany and we did not see people like you over there, they would not allow blacks,” Walker wrote later.
From there, Walker was approached by a manager. “The manager comes and says some guests at the restaurant say that you’re not a real Soldier. I reply, ‘What are you serious, what guest?’ The manager Wesly Patrick said can I see military ID? I felt that was reasonable, most people ask for that, so I showed him my ID it checked out.”
Walker videoed the encounter, posting it online soon after. Social media backlash was fierce against the restaurant, seemingly with those from both sides of the political spectrum lashing out against the chain.
— Jerrilynn Atherton (@JerrilynnA) November 14, 2016
— NAM_VET67 (@Vet67Nam) November 14, 2016
Chili’s has since released a statement on the incident that read:
“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.”
In addition to the statement of apology, Chili’s has also removed the manager from duty, and personally met with Walker and his legal team.