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Milpitas Restaurant Manager Kicks Out Veterans From Meeting Room Used for Years

A group of war veterans from Northern California is fuming Thursday. 

They’ve been meeting bi-weekly at the Black Bear Diner on Calavera Boulevard in Milpitas where they used to gather to share war stories and ongoing struggles for many in their current battle with PTSD. This until Tuesday when the new manager told them they couldn’t hold their gatherings there anymore.

“My therapy is with my brothers. That’s why we get together because we understand,” said veteran Joe Sigala.

They informally call themselves “veterans helping veterans.” And for the last 10 years, they’ve been meeting inside the restaurant in a room away from the main dining area.

They need privacy, they say, because of the personal topics they discuss while eating breakfast.

“We hug and cry together and that was our therapy,” said veteran Tim Mermod.

The veterans say the new manager at the diner told them they couldn’t have that room anymore.

On Wednesday, Parth Mehta, vice president of the Black Bear Diner franchise, said there were complaints that the veterans were rude to staff, and their meetings and attendance numbers were inconsistent.

And that he needs a headcount to make sure the diner has sufficient staffing.

“I felt like I felt when I came back from Vietnam. That nobody wanted us, welcomed us home. That’s terrible,” said Sigala.

“Now to still have things like this pop up and make fictitious statements and derogatory things against us, it’s not fair and it’s not right,” said veteran Hayward Cook.

“I‘m not sure what happened but there’s always two sides to every story,” said Mehta.

The vice president of the diner’s parent company said he will speak with the local manager and was surprised to hear that the veterans say they gave the restaurant this schedule, assuring there were always at least 20 members who show up to every gathering.

“This is the first time I hear about the schedule,” said Mehta.

And the vice president also said he wanted to make one other thing clear — the veterans are welcome back in the room.

“Our goal is to make sure that every guest is treated like family. They are not customers, they are guests to us. And we want to make sure we provide people the best service possible,” said Mehta.

Without their normal spot, Thursday’s gathering of veterans was outside the Starbucks next to the diner.

The coffee shop offered them all a free cup, as a thank you for their service. A gesture not lost on these brave men who still rely on each other to deal with the scars of war.

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Source: NBC Bay Area

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