Chili's apologizes after manager takes back free meal from veteran

Posted at 10:44 AM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 11:48:30-05

A national restaurant chain is having to apologize to a veteran whose free food on Veterans Day was taken away.

U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker, 47, said he was given a meal as part of Chili's Bar & Grill’s “free meal to veterans” promotion. Walker, who was accompanied by his service dog named “Barack,” finished his food but as he was about to leave, he told NBC Washington, the manager asked him to provide his military ID. 

Walker said he handed over the materials, along with his discharge paperwork. The manager then reportedly took Walker’s 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."

According to NBC Washington, the manager also attempted to claim that Walker’s service dog was not a service dog even though the dog had a red service vest and certified service tags.

Walker said he believes an elderly man who was wearing an American flag shirt and a Trump sticker was the person who told the restaurant manager that Walker was not a U.S. veteran.

Chili’s posted a statement on Facebook, reports NBC Washington, you can read it below.

“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 from 1987 to 1991. He said, reports NBC Washington, that he was wearing his Army uniform without his name or rank on it because he did not want to be mistaken for an active-duty soldier.

He went on to say that he and his lawyer will meet with Chili’s corporate.