Vietnam Vet Mistaken As Homeless, Kicked Out Of Walgreens
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Vietnam War veteran is hospitalized after reportedly suffering an episode of post-traumatic stress disorder for the way he was treated at a Hyde Park Walgreens last week.
Arnetha Habeel, says her 62-year-old husband, Daniel Habeel, walked into the Walgreens at 55th and Lake Park Avenue last Wednesday night and was promptly told by a security guard that he would have to leave or else face handcuffing and arrest by Chicago police.
Mrs. Habeel says that when her husband came out of the store he was visibly upset and kept saying to her that he didn’t do anything wrong. She says Habeel’s blood pressure got worse the more he thought or talked about it, so she took him to the Jesse Brown VA Hospital where he’s been for more than four days.
Arnetha Habeel says the doctor at the VA hospital says the incident “100%” caused a PTSD episode and a spiking of Daniel Habeel’s blood pressure. She says the doctor says the rejection by the security guard caused a flashback to times he was turned away from stores when he was stationed in Germany because he’s black. Mrs. Habeel says her husband also served in Vietnam.
A Walgreens spokesman says it was a case of “misidentification”, that a security guard mistook Habeel for a homeless man who had been found asleep in the store the day before.
Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso says the company apologizes for the way Daniel Habeel was treated and says he and his wife are certainly welcome in Walgreens stores. Caruso calls it, “an unfortunate situation”.
He later said further investigation discovered that it “appeared that the security guard was acting on his own” and “has since been let go”.
Arnetha Habeel says it could sometimes appear her husband dressed eccentrically and possibly could be profiled as homeless because he is always dressed in his Army fatigues and medals. But, she says, the store should not have profiled her husband.
Mrs. Habeel says she had attempted to get the situation dealt with at the store level but that the manager refused to apologize and definitely would not put in writing that Mr. Habeel had done nothing wrong.
Arnetha Habeel says the manager did offer a $20 gift card, but no apology, to take care of the situation. Habeel says she told the manager she didn’t want a gift card. She wanted her husband well.
Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso says, “We apologize that this occurred…and we certainly value our customers…especially our veterans who serve our country”.
Daniel Habeel founded and runs the RTW Veterans’ Center on 55th and King Drive.
He was in the Walgreens in between making his regular pick-ups from nearby Starbucks and Chipotle’s that donate to the veteran’s center.
Arnetha Habeel says this was not the first time her husband has been hassled by security at that Walgreens. She says that one other time security approached him as he read the back of a bottle of vitamins and told him if he wasn’t going to buy something he would have to leave. Daniel Habeel reportedly told the guard he intended to buy vitamins but wanted to find the right ones.