Vietnam veteran fired after giving homeless man corn muffin

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Photo courtesy of WPMT Fox43

VENICE, FL (June 30, 2014) – A 73-year old veteran says he was fired from a Cracker Barrel for giving a needy man a few condiment packets and a corn muffin.

Joe Koblenzer has been working at the restaurant for over three years.

Joe said, “It’s a fun job. A job really suited to me.”

Two weeks ago, Joe said a man who lokked homeless came through the doors.

“He looked a little needy. He asked if I had any mayonnaise and some tartar sauce. He said he was going to cook a fish,” said Joe.

Joe’s job it is to be friendly, so he obliged.

“I got it for him. As I walked out I put a corn muffin in,” said Joe.

But that gesture cost him his job.

“The general manager called me in and said he had some bad news for me. ‘Joe we are going to have to let you go.’”

He admits he’s been written up before. Two years ago for getting a fountain drink on the job and a second time for giving a cup of coffee to woman. He claims she actually paid for it. Rules are rules.

“It’s a rule. They legally can do this because I did break the rule,” said Joe.

Now the Vietnam vet who was trying to supplement his social security is the one down on his luck.

“Hurt me? Oh yeah it has.”

The debate over the seriousness of the event and the subsequent firing has started a fire storm online.

While some are saying it’s the company’s right, the establishment’s reviews have plummeted with more than 30 negative comments about the firing.

Joe says, “I feel badly it shines a bad light on the company. I would not want that on any company but it happened.”

Joe says he’s sad over the situation and misses the regulars and employees he’s gotten to know, as well as earning the maximum amount of stars on his apron for performance achievement and responsibility.

“You know what? At 73 I was really proud of doing this. I was really proud of getting those stars,” said Joe.

Joe says he is looking for a new job, but he’s not quite sure yet what he will do.

The restaurant released this statement claiming that the general manager fired him because he was a serial offender.

“During the time he was employed, he violated the Company’s policies regarding consuming food without paying or giving away free food, on five separate occasions,” the statement read. “Mr. Koblenzer received multiple counselings and written warnings reminding him about the company’s polices and the consequences associated with violating them. On the fifth occasion, again per Company policy, Mr. Koblenzer was terminated.”