Ernest Walker, a U.S. Army veteran, was humiliated Friday, on Veterans Day, when he had a promised free meal taken away from him at a Dallas-area Chili’s Grill & Bar after being accused of not really serving his country.
However, now the distinguished vet is receiving an outpouring of love, support and monetary donations to help him get an even better meal. A GoFundMe started on Walker’s behalf had raised $1,491 as of Tuesday at 1 p.m., more than surpassing its original $100 goal.
“Let’s come together and buy Ernest Walker a better meal! We owe it to our veterans to stand up for them as they stood up for all of us!” the GoFundMe’s description reads.
About 78 people have come together in the past 21 hours, giving donations ranging from $10 to $50 in Walker’s honor.
Walker’s troubles started when he went to his locals Chili’s to get his free meal as part of the promotion that was being offered on Veterans Day. The 47-year-old veteran was seated as a table with his service dog, Barack, when an elderly customer approached him and accused him of not serving.
“‘They didn’t let you blacks over in World War II.’ That’s exactly what he said to me, but this guy is 70-some years old,” Walker said of the incident.
The elderly man disappeared, but shortly afterward, a manager walked up to Walker’s table, questioning the veteran about his service.
Walker showed the manager his military identification and discharge papers as well as his dog’s certification, but the manager still refused to believe Walker or apologize and snatched Walker’s to-go meal before walking away.
“That manager needs to be either reprimanded or fired,” Walker said. “This overzealous manager comes out, and instead of talking to me man-to-man, he treated me as if I was a black man stealing a meal.”
“I will not eat at Chili’s until they fire this guy and if it takes him too long then I just will not ever eat there again,” David Barry, who contributed $50 to the campaign, wrote.
Well, now thanks to the kindheartedness of contributors, Walker will be more than able to enjoy a much better meal at a much better restaurant and hopefully know that he’s appreciated as a citizen and veteran.
“We are working with the campaign organizer right now to ensure that the funds only go to Ernest Walker, and that’s the only way that we will release the funds,” Kate Cichy, a spokesperson for GoFundMe, told The Root Tuesday.