The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) embarrassed itself by rejecting the application of a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL simply for being six months and 25 days over the age limit for military veterans, according to Fox News.
37-year-old Shaun Donovan served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan after becoming a Navy SEAL in 2005. With his military career coming to a close in 2020, he hoped to serve as a firefighter in one of the most elite departments in the United States, which lost 343 of its own on September 11, 2001. That did not go as planned.
“Donovan scored in the top 1 percent on the latest FDNY entry exam and passed the physical fitness test. But when the application period started, he was just over age 35 — the maximum age for those who served in the military to enter the FDNY,” reports Fox News.
The FDNY is notorious for having some of the strictest age rules in the country, with 28 being the max if the applicant has no previous military experience. The department with the second-lowest age cap is Boston at 32, followed closely by Houston and Chicago respectively at 36 and 37. Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Miami have no age cap.
Despite the snub, Shaun Donovan has received an outpouring of job offers across the country from city’s that would gladly count a decorated Navy SEAL among one of its own.
“If the hiring process that Shaun is going through is not going to honor his service and recognize his capability, I want him to know that we will,” Greg Pixley, the Denver Fire Department’s head recruiter and a fellow veteran told The Post. “That’s the kind of person we want.”
“We believe that if someone has the physical and mental prowess to perform the job, they should be given the respect and the opportunity to be a firefighter,” Pixley said.
The San Francisco Fire Department said Donovan’s presence in that city would be most welcome. “Tell him to apply to our fire department,” said spokesman Jonathan Baxter. “We’ve had individuals in their 50s go through our fire academy, which is very extensive and difficult, both physically and mentally.”
While Donovan appreciates the offers that have poured in from other departments, he remains committed to his goal of joining the FDNY and has appealed to the city’s Civil Service Commission, which will rule on his case sometime later this summer.
Though Donovan may have been disqualified from the FDNY on a technicality rather than stigma over his service, the topic of veteran employment has increasingly become a national conversation in recent years. According to Forbes in 2013, veterans often face difficulty when applying for jobs because of the stigma attached to them.
“There’s stigma attached to PTSD and traumatic brain injury and other hidden disabilities that people may assume soldiers have when they’re leaving the military,” Nancy B. Adams, branch chief at the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, told Forbes. “They may always have that at the back of their mind.”
Other employers feel that military veterans would have a difficult time following tasks they feel are too rigid, even though veterans are trained to follow orders.