An Iraq war veteran who spent two years fighting America's enemies now finds himself battling city bureaucrats over his standing to become an FDNY firefighter.
Now that he's back home, Army vet Robert Woods, 24, of Staten Island, wants to resume his quest to become one of New York's Bravest - following in the footsteps of his firefighter dad, uncle and brother - but finds the city's personnel department has refused to recertify him.
Arguing that he met all qualifications for the FDNY before he shipped off, Woods on Jan. 7 filed suit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, seeking placement on the Department of Citywide Administrative Services' special eligibility list.
"It's incomprehensible they'll stand in the way of [the FDNY's] hiring Robert," said his lawyer, James Brown.
Woods had hoped he could join the FDNY after completing his military service, but it soon became apparent that he wouldn't hit the ground running.
In two letters provided by Brown, DCAS in September had an initial position stating that Woods hadn't put in his required minimum two years of military service by May 5, 2008, the Fire Department's eligibility-expiration date for the current class.
But Woods' enlistment form says his two years were up on April 28, 2008, which beat the DCAS deadline by a week.
Then, in a second letter, dated Dec. 11, 2008, Woods was told he was out of luck because he had not done the required two years by Jan. 21, 2008 - when his certification number came up and he could have been considered for appointment.
"They realized they were wrong, so they shifted it," Brown said of the differing dates in the two letters. "But Military Law 243 allows him to establish his eligibility after he's discharged."
DCAS officials declined to comment, citing the lawsuit.
Republished with permission of The New York Post.