Husband of Sailor killed in Syria says she was forced on deployment despite bout with cancer

Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon M. Kent

The female Navy chief petty officer who was killed in Syria was cleared for deployment, despite having a physical condition that prevented her from pursuing military education opportunities- and now her family is speaking out.

Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon M. Kent was killed in action earlier this month during a suicide bombing in the Syrian city of Manbij. At the time of her death, she was 35 years of age and a married mother of two.

Joe Kent, a retired Green Beret warrant officer and Shannon Kent’s husband, is now asking the Navy to review the odd rule that forbade her from training to be a psychologist, but allowed her to continue to deploy.

“The regulation still hasn’t been fixed and that’s something we’re working on now,” the retired Green Beret said. “We’d like to change it in her honor.”

Mrs. Kent had previously beaten thyroid cancer, and was attempting to attend Officer Development School in June, following up with her academic plans as part of her commissioning program.

Instead, she was disqualified from the program due to her thyroid, sent on her 5th deployment, and killed less than two months after setting boots on ground.

“It is pretty unbelievable she was considered physically fit to be deployable and … for a special operation in Syria, but not for a classroom to be a psychologist,”Mr. Kent said of his late wife’s predicament with the Navy.

According to the Stars and Stripes, the thyroid cancer is suspected to have come from the burn pits Mrs. Kent was exposed to in her 20s, during one of the four deployments she made to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite having her thyroid removed while her husband was deployed, and having two boys Kent was initially accepted to attend the psychology program in February of last year.

Unfortunately for Kent, she was torpedoed by the section 15-34 of the Navy’s manual of Medical Department policy, which rejects several health conditions- including thyroid tumors.

With a denial formally submitted, the Navy was free to deploy Kent to a combat zone, and issued orders days later.



Kent’s family has a clear demand in the aftermath of her combat death- change the rule. “We want the regulation changed…to retention standards,” Joe Kent said. “Basically, if you are fit enough to remain in the service, you should be fit enough to apply for a commissioning program.”

The United States Navy is currently reviewing ways to change the policy, but have not made any formal decisions as of yet.

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