U.S. Army Veteran Ernest Walker has figured out a way to turn a negative into a positive, feeding dozens of North Texas veterans a free meal Saturday.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Walker was the man seen in a video that went viral in November. It shows a Chili’s manager taking away Walker’s free meal on Veteran’s Day after demanding more proof of his military service.
Soon after, a GoFundMe page was created by a stranger to buy Walker a dinner. The initial goal was set at $100.
Within days, nearly $6,000 was donated from well-wishers around the world – and Walker said he knew he didn't want to keep the funds for himself.
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So, he partnered with Luby’s in Duncanville, along with the Dallas Mavericks and the Salvation Army, and gave away free meals to veterans on Saturday, his 48th birthday.
Homeless veterans were bused over from the Salvation Army, grateful for a hot meal on a cold night. No one had to show any military ID.
“We know the term stolen valor, they know the consequences for that. So if they say they’re a veteran by all means we’re going to feed them,” Walker said. “Because ultimately our goal is to feed a soul and to feed a person, not just a vet.”
“It’s not our money, it was given to us by the general public and I felt it should be given back,” said Walker’s wife Debbie, who initially came up with the idea.
They have since formed a non-profit called Feed a Million Veterans and hope to continue offering free meals several times a year.