Grand Rapids, Michigan – A Michigan Marine veteran was kicked out of a bar on the eve of Veteran’s Day because he had his service dog with him that helps him deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Jerome Smith was at Holiday Bar with about 10 Marines to celebrate the birthday of the United States Marines Corp when the general manager of the bar told him his service dog JoJo had to leave.
David Dame Jr. was at the bar and saw the incident and posted about it on Facebook.
“The holiday bar just refused service to a marine and service dog tonight while we stopped in to celebrate,” Dame wrote in his post.
“Asked to leave by management. If any of my friends frequent this bar please stop. And please share and go viral. Obviously they care not for why service animals do for our veterans or any one in that matter that may need them. Wish I could tag everyone.”
When word got out of how the bar treated Smith, they posted an apology.
The Holiday Bar posted an apology on its own Facebook page on Nov. 12.
“We had a very unsettling incident late Friday evening at our establishment that we are ashamed of and very sorry for,” the Holiday Bar post read.
“Some of you may have heard bits and pieces and or have been made aware of this. Although the decisions that were that night were made out of concern for all involved, it is clear that the wrong decisions were made.
"For this we are deeply sorry, we know we can’t change what happened but are hopeful we can learn from this. We employ men of armed services, both active and ex, and have nothing but upmost respect and admiration for them and all that serve.
"On behalf of all at the holiday Bar we would like to express our deepest apologies for all the pain this has caused. In light of all the pain this has caused we will be donating 100% of all of our sales today to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, we know this doesn’t change what happened, but maybe it will be a cause for reflection in our own hearts if nothing else.”
Smith’s reply on Dame’s post explains why he told MLive.com the bar’s apology was little more than “damage control.”
In the post, Smith said he brought all his papers with him because he said he’s used to “ignorant people refusing me service or somehow blaming me or accusing me of misbehavior as their justification for removal. I’m prepared for situations like this.”
Smith wrote that when he showed the general manager his credentials for the service dog, the general manager waved his hand in Smith’s face, crossed his arms, shook his head and refused to look at the dog or the credentials.
Smith wrote that the general manager said, “I don’t care what you have. It’s private property. You have to leave.” Smith said the general manager went around and told all the staff to refuse him service.
"The way I was treated was so disrespectful," Smith, 35, told MLive. "I want to give them a chance to grow and make this right."
Smith said he wants the Holiday Bar to sponsor a service dog through This Able Veteran. That’s the same organization that gave him his service dog, JoJo, five years ago, according to the news site.
A sponsorship costs about $25,000. The dog receives 12 months of training before being paired with a veteran. Then the veteran comes to stay at the nonprofit in Illinois for a month for training with the dog.
Do you think that Smith is asking for too much, or is it the right thing to do? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.