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Word "veteran" not allowed on Disney T-shirt

Retired army Colonel Dale Sindt showed his pride as a veteran years ago when he bought custom shirts at a Downtown Disney store for his twin grandsons that read, "My papa is a Vietnam veteran."  (WFTV)
Retired army Colonel Dale Sindt showed his pride as a veteran years ago when he bought custom shirts at a Downtown Disney store for his twin grandsons that read, "My papa is a Vietnam veteran." (WFTV)
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Updated: 9/15/2013 9:40 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Walt Disney World is on a big push to hire veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

One Vietnam veteran reached out to Channel 9's Steve Barrett for help when a Disney cast member wouldn't let him make a "veteran" T-shirt.

Retired army Colonel Dale Sindt showed his pride as a veteran years ago when he bought custom shirts at a Downtown Disney store for his twin grandsons that read, "My papa is a Vietnam veteran." 

When the boys outgrew the shirts he was shocked when he tried to replace them.

"We went to print them out and the lady said, 'I'm sorry, we can't print those.' And we asked her why and she said, 'Our legal department said its offensive to people,'" Sindt said.

He couldn't believe it so he protested in writing and got a call back from Disney management.

"She wouldn't budge and I said, 'You do it for all other groups that are offensive to people, to me anyway,'" Sindt said. 

Sindt did not give up, pressing the issue until Disney mailed him the shirts free of charge. Battle won, but war lost -- the policy remained, at least until Friday.

Disney said late Friday that it will now allow the word "veteran" and released a statement Friday:
"We apologize for this misunderstanding. We are reviewing the policy and will continue to work with our Cast Members to ensure it's applied appropriately and consistently," said  Disney spokesperson Friday.

Eyewitness News had tested the policy Friday at the same downtown Disney store by creating the same shirt on a computer, only to be told no. 

Policy at the time allowed no association with the word "veteran" on the custom Disney shirts.

While Disney is making a big push to hire veterans.

In a media release touting their use of veteran employees, the word "veteran" is used 31 times.

The characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are themselves World War II veterans. 

Sindt said he's not anti-Disney. He holds annual passes and Mickey Mouse greets you at his front door. 

He said he was just disappointed in Disney policy.

"I think it should be changed. It should be welcomed and recognized and saluted," Sindt said.

Disney released a second statement Friday:
"We apologize for this misunderstanding. The word veteran should have been permitted. We are reviewing the policy and will continue to work with our Cast Members to ensure it's applied appropriately and consistently," a Disney spokesperson said.
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