(The Center Square) – Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is apologizing to an Illinois resident who is also a veteran after she posted on social media about her interaction with the agency leaving her overwhelmed and crying.
A series of viral videos on the social media video platform TikTok from user “jackieshadwick” began with a video posted last week.
“I’m like really annoyed. I don’t know if this is the hill that I want to die on or not,” Shadwick said in the video seen nearly half a million times online. “But I just feel like when people start power tripping on rights, it’s not fair, it’s not right.”
Shadwick said she went to the Belleville Driver Services Facility to get an updated driver’s license so she could apply for veteran’s benefits. She said she read on the agency’s website that veterans can walk in for services without an appointment.
“I’m trying to walk in and they’re denying me service because they’re telling me that I need to go put my uniform on,” Shadwick said. “It’s been 20 years. Veterans don’t have uniforms. I’m not in active service. I don’t have a uniform on.”
She then goes on to say she had to wait for an hour to talk with a manager. The video then cuts to Shadwick saying they “saw me recording now and they called the police.”
A spokesperson for White’s office confirmed the interaction in an email to The Center Square seeking response.
“We apologize to Ms. Shadwick for the unacceptable way she was treated at the facility,” White spokesman Henry Haupt said.
In a subsequent video posted Tuesday, Shadwick provided more details about the interaction. She said when a manager was made available, she notified the worker she was going to record the conversation but the manager objected and said she was calling the police.
“I was just waiting there. I started crying. I feel so overwhelmed at this point,” Shadwick said.
The manager came out on speakerphone with someone, Shadwick said, “and she goes ‘I have this woman here and she does not have an appointment and she’s refusing to allow us to make an appointment for her.”
That’s not what happened, Shadwick said. “That is why I wanted to record. Oh my god, totally gaslighting me.”
Shadwick said the manager eventually apologized and clarified the policy does allow veterans to walk in without an appointment.
“And at that point I felt like this was sweeping under the rug and this was wrong and nobody is doing anything about it,” Shadwick said in another video. “I walked in [with an appointment], they were extremely rude, the first lady I just kept trying to ask questions to and she just turned around and wouldn’t even talk with me. So, I got my driver’s license and I can now apply for my veterans benefits and that’s all I wanted to do. I just needed a driver’s license with the corrected information.”
In yet another video, Shadwick said “this will be the hill she dies on.”
“I will be the face of the wronged veterans at the DMV,” Shadwick said. “Here’s the thing. It is so disrespectful to tell a veteran that they need to put their uniform on or that they need to be in uniform. I served my country honorably and I laid my uniform to rest.”
Shadwick called out White directly and said there needs to be more training for state employees.
“Every state employee should know what a veteran is. That should be fundamental,” Shadwick said. “I’m not going to stop until that happens. This needs to be fixed.”
Haupt said more training will happen.
“As a veteran, she deserves to be treated with the upmost respect and dignity, but that did not happen. Again, that is unacceptable,” Haupt said. “We are reminding all our Driver Services facilities statewide that veterans should receive expedited service. They are not required to be in uniform. In addition, we will specifically hold a training with the staff at the Belleville Driver Services facility on this important issue.”
Haupt noted White, a veteran himself, “holds veterans in the highest esteem and appreciates their service to our country … This is personal to him and we will do everything within our power to ensure it never happens again.”
White served in the military, first in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division and then as a member of the Illinois National Guard and Reserve.