General Municipal Law § 217 (h) states the following regarding military leave:
(i) A participant whose volunteer fire service is interrupted by full-time extended obligatory military service or by a single voluntary enlistment not to exceed four years in the armed forces of the United States shall be considered on military leave. During such period of military leave, the participant shall receive active volunteer service credit of fifty points for each full year, prorated for service of less than a year.
First, notice this section of the statute is not part of the point system. The categories in the point system are optional - a sponsor can select from those categories to include, or exclude, certain categories. Since this is not part of the point system, it is a mandatory provision.
Second, notice the section starts....a participant. The statute defines a participant as follows:
7. “Participant” means an active volunteer firefighter who is eligible for a benefit under a service award program.
To be eligible for a benefit, an active volunteer firefighter must earn 50 points during a calendar year.
Therefore, it appears that in order for a volunteer to be eligible to be credited with points for military leave, the volunteer must first have earned 50 points during a calendar year based on his/her own volunteer activities, before entering the military. In other words, a volunteer who joins the military prior to becoming a participant would not be eligible for military leave points.
We suggest you review this with your attorney.
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