It’s become a much-appreciated tradition for restaurants around the country to offer a free meal to veterans on Veteran’s Day. However, when a retired Army vet in Texas decided to take his local Chili’s up on the offer after word got out that they were offering it as well, he was left horrified, not honored for service, by what he received instead.
Appreciative of the opportunity to be recognized for having put his life on the line to defend the flag and country he loves, 47-year-old Ernest Walker was looking forward to enjoying a meal from one of America’s favorite restaurant chains. Dressed in his military fatigues and with his marked service dog in tow, he sat down alone and ate. However, moments before taking his final bite, he got a nasty surprise for the manager.
According to Dallas News, Walker was dining at the Cedar Hill restaurant location, where he claimed one of the 180,000 free meals Chili’s served to vets that day across the country. An onlooker took issue with Walker and questioned whether he was a “real soldier,” which he didn’t just bring up to the vet but also brought to the manager’s attention. Walker had his military ID and discharge papers on him, which he said he showed the manager, before being “grossly offended, embarrassed dehumanized.”
As he was being confronted by the manager, who was apparently acting on another patron’s claims alone, Walker began recording the tense altercation, which has since gone viral after he shared the incident on social media. By this point, Walker’s leftovers had already been boxed up, which the manager grabbed from him as the veteran repeatedly asked if he’d seen his documents proving he was legitimately discharged from the service. His question was interrupted by the manager telling him to leave and “have a great day” as he walked away with the rest of Walker’s free food.
Walker left but has since retained an attorney over this incident. The manager couldn’t be reached for comment. Chili’s, on the other hand, doesn’t condone what this employee did and said that his actions do not represent their brand, and they plan to take this matter very seriously.
Walker had already finished his meal and allegedly had the proof necessary to show that he was not an imposter, despite what an apparently over critical patron had to say about this stranger. It was a complete demonstration of disrespect when the manager didn’t concretely know for himself if he was an authentic veteran or not and ignorantly took another person’s word for it rather than giving the Army vet, with documents for proof, the benefit of the doubt.