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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008 06:36 am

Getting the points

Firefighter’s fight ends in success

Untitled Document It took several strokes of luck, but last week Springfield Fire Department Capt. Mark Dyment finally won his fight for veterans points. These points, calculated to reflect military service, can be used by police- and fire-department personnel to enhance their placement on promotion lists. Previously ranked seventh on the promotion list for   battalion chief, Dyment had been told by city officials that his military service didn’t count because it consisted of 14 months of training in electronic-warfare systems rather than “active duty” [see Dusty Rhodes, “Pointless,” Oct. 4, 2007]. However, in 2006, both the city and the state of Illinois adopted a code that gives veterans points to anyone who has spent at least a year in “active military or naval service” and left with an honorable discharge. In August, Dyment filed suit against the city and the civil-service commission, seeking judicial review. Then he got busy trying to dig up documentation that would prove that his training was considered “active duty,” calling military facilities from Louisiana to Colorado. “Most said my records were probably destroyed because they weren’t important documents,” Dyment says. “Well, they’re pretty important to me!”
Finally he found a clerk at Camp Lincoln who remembered Dyment’s dad, who had a 28-year career with the Illinois Air National Guard. This clerk took time to search records stored in a basement and came up with Dyment’s original orders, proving that he was even eligible for veterans benefits. “I didn’t even know that!” Dyment says. Last month, Sangamon Circuit Court Judge Leslie Graves remanded the decision back to the Springfield Civil Service Commission, which reheard the case on Jan. 9 and, after more than an hour in executive session, unanimously granted Dyment his points. Commissioner and attorney Kent Gray, who was absent the first time Dyment’s case came before the civil-service panel, says he “argued strenuously” in executive session to persuade his fellow commissioners to grant Dyment’s request, and he sees similar cases on the horizon. “The big outstanding issue is: how do we handle training time that shows up on [military discharge forms]? The state says you get credit if you have more than a year of active duty service. I don’t think we can discount that. The city has a different view,” Gray says. In an e-mail response to questions from a reporter, city spokesman Ernie Slottag explained that Dyment got credit because he was “called up and deployed for an extended period of active duty.” Gray, however, says several commissioners have requested that Slottag refrain from commenting on civil-service matters. “He’s not at the meetings; he has no idea what happened,” Gray says. “He has comments on stuff, and his comments end up being completely different from what happened.”
Contact Dusty Rhodes at drhodes@illinoistimes.com.
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