A FORMER soldier was left “gobsmacked” after a Specsavers optician allegedly accused him of “invading countries all over the world and killing innocent people.”
It is believed that the member of staff, thought to be Brazillian, ambushed Steve Leale, 54, when he went for an eye check-up.
Steve Leale, 54, served in the military for 32 as a Warrant Officer Class 2[/caption]
The former Warrant Officer Class 2, who served for 3 said he had told her about his military service because of the UK’s Armed Forces Covenant which gives veterans priority access to NHS care for conditions associated with their military service.
The incident allegedly happened on February 15 when Mr Leale and his wife visited the Specsavers store in Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Mr Leale, a grandfather who lives near Woodbridge and has served in war zones, said: “As I went through to my appointment, I was having general chit chat with the optician.
For what, invading countries all over the world and killing innocent people?
“She explained to me she came to the UK many years ago to gain her qualification. I then told her I had been to her country on several occasions and thought it was a beautiful place.
“My appointment then finished and I went out to the front of the shop to order my replacement lenses.
“But as I was stood waiting for my wife to finish her appointment, the optician approached me and said she thought I needed to be referred to the hospital as my sight had deteriorated so badly over the three years since my last visit.
“I then asked her if she could kindly annotate the paperwork to state I was a veteran. She looked at me and laughed. I then said I’m serious as it’s part of the Forces Charter.
I am very proud to have served my country for over 32 years. I did my duty on behalf of all British citizens no matter what ethnicity, background or belief.
“It was then she made her racist comment towards me by saying, ‘For what, invading countries all over the world and killing innocent people?’
“I did not reply but merely walked over to my wife who paid for her items and then we left.
“Once we were in the car on our way home, I explained to my wife what had happened, and she immediately said, ‘Let’s go back and get a refund.’
Mr Leale said he initially got a call back from the manager of the Woodbridge store, saying she had been asked to deal with it as they were a franchise branch, but he insisted on talking to the Specsavers head office.
A manager at the Specsavers head officer then called him expressing concern and “apologising unreservedly”. A later message said that a staff member had been suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry.
“I am very proud to have served my country for over 32 years. I did my duty on behalf of all British citizens no matter what ethnicity, background or belief.”
He took to Facebook and said that he was “godsmacked” by her comment. His post soon became inundated with responses of disgust.
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A Specsavers spokesperson said: “An employee has been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation into comments made to a customer at the Woodbridge store.
“The alleged comments do not represent the views of Specsavers, who are active supporters of Blind Veterans UK, a charity which cares for former military personnel with sight problems.
The incident allegedly happened at the Specsavers in Woodbridge, Suffolk[/caption]
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