Shaun Donovan was inspired to join the military after 9/11, and many could argue it was his destiny as he was born on Sept. 11th in 1981. After he graduated from college in 2005, Donovan enlisted in the military where he became a decorated Navy SEAL earning numerous medals for valor during four combat tours. With his retirement on the horizon in 2020, Donovan began to look towards the future.
Donovan has a self-proclaimed affinity for the city of New York as his parents grew up nearby in Staten Island. “I always had this draw to the city, this connection, even though I never lived there,” he told the New York Post. “When 9/11 happened, I knew I had to do something about it.”
It wasn’t long until he set his sights on becoming a part of the New York Fire Department. “I believe in the city, I believe in its values and its people. I want to do my part to keep it safe,” he said. Unfortunately, Donovan had to miss the scheduled exam date as he was assigned to Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command in San Diego, California at that time, Newsmax reported.
On Sept. 6, Donovan wrote an email to the Department of Administrative Services to explain his circumstances. Within days, Donovan received an email back informing him he would be allowed an exemption and given a make-up date for the exam.
On Oct. 25, the veteran used military leave and his own money to fly to New York to take the test. According to the NYP, Donovan paid $1,331 out of pocket for the trip. He scored in the one percentile and excelled in the physical test as well.
Then, on Feb. 1, an FDNY investigator called him and informed him that he was six months and 25 days over the acceptable limit. According to FDNY’s website, the cut off is age 29 but with military service, the age requirement is extended to 35, which Donovan was at the time.
“It was a letdown,” he said. “I was allowed to apply and take the test. At no point was I made aware I was outside any age limit. It just seemed everything was lined up and ready to go.”
Jacqueline Gold, who is a Department of Administrative Services spokeswoman, said, “It is always painful for the city to have to reject a job candidate, especially one who is serving to protect our country. However, the rules cannot be changed for one person,” she said in a statement.
Donovan had appealed the decision. If his appeal is rejected, Donovan plans to pursue legal action.