Offered Special Treatment, Medal Of Honor Winner Dakota Meyer Declines

Sep 29, 2011
Originally published on September 29, 2011 10:57 am

Dakota Meyer, the Marine sergeant who received the Medal of Honor this month from President Obama at the White House, has turned down an opportunity to apply to be a New York City firefighter. The city's application deadline expired on Sept. 19 and Meyer — who was honored at the White House on Sept. 15 — missed the deadline. His attorney asked whether New York could briefly re-open the application process and a federal judge agreed — but only if Meyer was the sole applicant.

That's why Meyer said no thanks.

"Unless the filing period is open to everyone, I can not morally accept it," he said in a statement obtained by CNN. Meyer had sought a one-day extension to the deadline that would be open to anyone. But the fire department's hiring practices are under legal scrutiny while New York struggles to beef up its small number of minority firefighters, as AP points out.

Thus, Meyer's request went to U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garufis, who agreed to a 24-hour application extension — but for Meyer only. The New York Times (paywall) reports Judge Garufis ruled a one-day program opened to everyone would negatively affect minority representation in the pool of potential fire department recruits. He wrote that an outreach program for potential applicants would be needed to address the diversity concerns.

Complicating matters, the application program opens only once every four years.

Meyer's lawyer says his client can't accept the special circumstance and asked New York to "go back to the drawing board." Speaking to ABC, Keith Sullivan said "the city's burden pales in comparison to the burdens and compromises Sgt. Meyer has made for this country."

Sgt. Meyer was decorated for his extraordinary and heroic actions two years ago in Afghanistan. He and another Marine disobeyed orders and spent six hours exposed to enemy fire to save many stranded fellow troops who were pinned down. They recovered the bodies of four slain Marines. NPR's Tom Bowman has more about the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.

Meyer is now in the Marine Corps Reserve. Maxim Magazine has just announced he'll work with them as a military adviser. And he's already an instructor for the company's Maximum Warrior competition which tracks a group of civilians and troops as their knowledge and endurance is tested.

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