A country-music themed whiskey bar in Arizona recently turned away a Marine Corps. vet for having a tattoo on his neck. The bar felt like it was gang related, and they didn’t want any gang activity at the bar. It turns out the tattoo has a different meaning.
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The Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row saloon in Gilbert has officially apologized Brandon Andrus. The Iraq War vet was denied service and asked to leave after Whiskey Row employees spotted the “22” emblazoned on his neck.
Those familiar with veterans already know that the number 22 is symbolic of a different kind of gang. Suicides. The number has come to symbolize the epidemic of veteran suicides in America. 22 suicides per day, on average.
“I was excited to check out a new bar in town,” Andrus wrote on Facebook. “I served my country with 2 tours in the Marine Corps, contribute to society, work full time, married and raising 2 kids in Gilbert.”
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row asked Andrus to leave when they saw the 22 on his neck, primarily becasue it was a neck tattoo. Andrus has many tattoos, in cluding some on his face, but Whiskey Row noted that local law enforcement had advised the bar to boot anyone with neck tattoos, as that was a sure sign of gang activity.
After news spread, Whiskey Row apologized:
“It is most unfortunate that on the heels of the grand opening of our newest Whiskey Row location that we failed to welcome one of our most loyal and celebrated patrons: a military veteran. While our company celebrates veterans and active military, because of a misunderstanding, we let one of our most cherished guests down.”
“Our Company’s goal is always to provide our guests with the best experience possible when coming to our restaurants. On Wednesday March 15, 2017, we fell short and since then, we’ve attempted to reach out with a proper apology and an invitation to the guest that was turned away and his family to give our establishment a chance to make amends.”
“We take this situation very seriously. The leaders in our company wish to make this right. As such, we will be hosting a veterans and active military appreciation event in the coming weeks. In addition and as a result of this incident, we are actively working with the local police department to educate our staff on the difference between gang and non-gang related tattoos. While we will continue to strive to keep our patrons safe while in our establishments, further education of our staff will allow us to make exceptions to our dress code and tattoo policy moving forward.”
Andrus was civil about accepting their apology: “Given the chance they decided to make it right.”