Army Veteran’s Free Meal Was Taken Away by Chili’s Manager

The veteran recorded his interaction with the manager and posted it to social media
Chili's Grill & Bar

Chili's Grill & Bar

A Veterans Day promotion left this veteran feeling “grossly offended,” “embarrassed,” and “dehumanized.”

U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker went to a Chili's Grill and Bar in Cedar Hill, Texas, with his service dog, Barack, to enjoy a free Veteran’s Day meal on Friday, Nov. 11. It ended with the restaurant manager taking away his free burger, Dallas News reported.

Walker, 47, wrote in a Facebook post that an elderly customer wearing a Donald Trump campaign shirt approached him; this man told Walker he had served in Germany, and “they did not let Blacks serve over there.” Then the man left, and the manager came over. He said Walker was not a “real soldier” because he was wearing his hat indoors. Walker showed the manager his driver’s license and discharge paperwork, which he also showed FOX 4. Then, Walker wrote, the manager said his service dog — who was wearing a red service vest and had certified service tags — was not a real service dog.

The manager then took away Walker’s to-go box, saying he could not prove he was a “legitimate military veteran,” FOX 4 detailed.

Walker told FOX 4 that he felt it wasn’t a coincidence the interaction happened just days after Trump was elected.

"I believe if it wasn't for the temperature of America right now, I believe that man would have never reacted that way, because I think he's probably a good person,” Walker said.

Chili’s has taken notice and a company spokesperson released a statement:

"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."

According to FOX 4, Walker plans to file assault charges against the manager. 

Kelli Valade, Chili's Bar & Grill president, released the following statement:

“Today, we personally apologized to Mr. Walker for the unfortunate experience in our restaurant on Veterans Day and thanked him for his service to our country. We also thanked him for taking the time to speak with us and he appreciated our apology. Our goal is to make every Guest that walks into our restaurants feel special and we fully own that one of our restaurants fell short on an important day where we strive to honor our veterans and active military for their service. We took swift action and immediately removed our manager from the restaurant. We are now in the process of working with Mr. Walker on a resolution that promotes trust and healing.”

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UPDATED NOV. 15: Revised to include the Chili's Bar & Grill's president statement.