CEDAR HILL, Texas -- Ernest Walker, a U.S. Army veteran, says he had his food taken from his table by a restaurant manager who didn't believe he served in the military.
Walker captured a portion of the interaction and posted the video to his personal Facebook page. Since then, it's received more than 400,000 views.
Walker, 47 says he was taking advantage of a Veteran's Day promotion Friday evening, when he received a free meal at a Chili's in Cedar Hill. However, Walker said when he finished eating, an elderly customer began questioning his military service and that customer took his complaints to management.
"The manager comes and stands over me ... and says -- sir, there is [a] guest that says you are not real military -- you're not a soldier," he wrote. "I'm like a guest said I'm not a soldier, what?'"
Walker said he provided the manger his driver's license and a picture of his discharge papers -- something he said he had already done.
"At that point, in my opinion, he should have said, 'Sir, I'm sorry, thank you for your service,'" he said. "I'd have got up and walked out."
Walker said the manager then told him the customer also said his dog wasn't a real service dog.
"Barack had his Red Service Vest on, and his certified service tags," he wrote.
Walker started recording on his cellphone. That video shows a Chili's employee refusing to respond to Walker's questioning, followed by the employee taking Walker's takeout box off his table and walking away.
Walker returned to the Chili's Saturday with a small group of supporters to protest the Ceder Hill franchise location.
"I am a military veteran," he said. "I served, I served my country. I did not go and fight a war but I stood ready."
As of Monday morning, Chili's has responded to individual customer complaints posted to its Facebook page with the following statement:
"We have a commitment to valuing and celebrating diversity with the primary goal of making everyone feel special. Unfortunately, we fell short on a day that we strive to honor our Veterans and active military for their service. This has been escalated this to the highest levels of our company."
The mayor of Cedar Hill also sent out a statement in response to the incident:
"This is not what we are about. I find it sad and much too prevalent in our society today that we apply the actions of individuals to entire cities and entire groups, and in so doing make the exception the rule. This situation is indeed the exception in Cedar Hill."
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