Shannon Kent's family says she never should have been in Syria

Elizabeth Howe
January 31, 2019 - 11:41 am

Photo courtesy of US Navy

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Shannon Kent's family says the Navy regulation that sent her to Syria — where she was killed on Jan. 16 — needs to be changed.

With four deployments under her belt and two young sons, Kent was looking to shift the focus of her service. She applied for the Navy's doctoral program in psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. After initially being accepted, the Navy decided Kent needed to meet higher medical standards to join the service than she did to remain an active servicemember — and Kent's past thyroid cancer disqualified her.

Days later, Kent received orders to deploy to Syria. 

RELATED: DoD identifies three Americans killed in Syria Wednesday

Before deploying, Kent was working to have the regulation changed. 

“If we are healthy enough to deploy worldwide, why are we not healthy enough to pursue officer programs?” Kent wrote in an April 2018 letter to the then-chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain.

Kent wasn't able to achieve her goal before she was killed in Syria — so her family is taking up her efforts. 

“The regulation still hasn’t been fixed and that’s something we’re working on now,” Shannon's husband Joe Kent said. “We’d like to change it in her honor.”

Kent's family wrote to Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, and met with him at Dover Air Force Base when Shannon's remains were returned from overseas.

No regulation changes have been made. 

RELATED: Sailor is first woman to die in combat in Syria

“This is discriminatory not just towards me, but any enlisted sailor who has aspirations to commission from active duty,” Shannon Kent wrote in her letter to McCain.

The Kent family never received a response from late Sen. McCain, but plans to continue work to have the regulation changed in Shannon's honor. 

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