Haverhill’s Former Veterans Services Officer Santiago Starts Today as Lawrence Firefighter

Haverhill Veterans Service Officer Luis Santiago in 2021. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Luis Santiago, Haverhill’s former director of veterans services, starts his new job today as a Lawrence firefighter.

Santiago left his Haverhill post in November to take a similar position in Billerica, but had interviewed months ago to become a Lawrence firefighter. He had long passed the state Civil Service examination when the job became available.

Lawrence Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty told WHAV Friday that he has been trying for some time to fill vacancies in the department, but had to wait for a Civil Service list and then there were delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santiago was formally appointed by Lawrence Mayor Brian A. DePeña.

Moriarty said, as is customary, Santiago and another firefighter starting today will begin with one year probation and receive training at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

The day before Santiago left his Haverhill job, he pledged over WHAV to continue serving Haverhill veterans. “Just because I’m leaving Haverhill doesn’t mean I’m not available and I look forward to providing this unique service to our veteran community and hope to continue our relationship that I created throughout the last year and a half. I look forward to actually meeting new people and, hopefully, continuing to service our veterans the best way I know how,” he said.

Santiago was appointed by Mayor James J. Fiorentini during July 2020 to replace Amanda Buckley. Since then, he was active getting the word out to veterans about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, organizing a recognition ceremony and celebration of Haverhill’s living World War II veterans, participating in the formal dedication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Mill Brook Park last September on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and dedicating the city as a Purple Heart City last summer.

Santiago, a Lawrence native, served as an infantryman in the Army from 2001 to 2005 and was a soldier in the brigade that captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. Santiago previously served as an intern in the Lawrence Veterans Services Office.

He is a 2018 graduate of Northern Essex Community College and a 2019 graduate of Merrimack College. He received his master’s degree in public affairs from Merrimack College in 2020.

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