Rep. Antonio Delgado Introduces Bipartisan Resolution to Honor the Life of Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent & Calls for a Review of Defense Department Policies

February 15, 2019
Press Release
Delgado requests further review of policies that barred Chief Kent from pursuing Ph.D. program; Delgado also honored Chief Kent in House floor speech this week

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives and introduced a bipartisan Congressional resolution to honor the life of Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent of Pine Plains, New York. The resolution marks her service to our nation and calls for the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy to review the policies that, following Chief Kent’s thyroid cancer, deemed her fit to serve in Syria but barred her from pursuing a Ph.D.

“How can you be fit to deploy to a combat zone but you can’t join a Ph.D. program?” Delgado questioned. “Clearly something went wrong. While the Navy has made steps in the right direction, we need to understand what happened in Chief Kent’s case and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again to any member of the Armed Services.”

Delgado’s resolution, co-sponsored by Representative Elise Stefanik (NY-21) and Ted Budd (NC-13), calls for the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense to “continue to review and engage with Congress regarding the effect of [its policies for] members of the Armed Forces who meet retention and deployment standards but fail to meet accession standards.” Additionally, in a letter to the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy, Delgado requested a comprehensive briefing on the events and policies that led to Chief Kent’s final deployment to Syria to better understand the roadblocks Chief Kent faced.

On the floor of the House of Representatives, Delgado paid tribute to Chief Kent, honoring her as a “true hero” who “gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and will be remembered for her courage and determination.” Chief Kent is survived by her husband, a retired Army member, and two young sons.  Watch Delgado’s speech here.

Read Delgado’s resolution:

RESOLUTION

Honoring the life of Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent.

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent was born in Pine Plains, New York, to Stephen and Mary Smith;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent enlisted in the United States Navy on December 11, 2003, after graduating with honors from Stissing Mountain High School, New York;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent, a 2005 graduate of the Defense Language Institute, was fluent in five languages and six dialects of Arabic;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent quickly rose through the ranks and served as a member of the Cryptologic Warfare Unit of the Navy, stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent deployed with the Navy SEALs to Iraq three times from 2007 to 2011 and to Afghanistan in 2012;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent was diagnosed with and survived thyroid cancer in 2016;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent was deemed cancer free by her doctors and cleared for all physical activity;

 

Whereas, in March 2018, Chief Petty Officer Kent was selected to participate in a special officer program to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent was disqualified, having not met the physical standards established under Department of Defense Instruction 6130.03, from seeking the commission as an officer in the Armed Forces required to participate in the special program because of her history of thyroid cancer;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent appealed to the Department of the Navy to establish a standardized waiver process for members of the Armed Forces who meet retention and deployment standards but fail to meet the heightened accession standards regarding the physical fitness of such members;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent received an ‘‘outstanding’’ rating on her Physical Readiness Test in May 2018, deeming her medically fit to serve in a combat zone while she remained medically unfit to pursue a Ph.D.;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent, having been denied a waiver and an appeal from the Department of the Navy to seek a commission as an officer in the Armed Forces, deployed to Syria in November 2018;

 

Whereas, on January 16, 2019, at 35 years of age, Chief Petty Officer Kent was killed in a suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria, while supporting Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent served in five combat tours in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and finally Syria;

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent was the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Joint Service Achievement Medal, among other decorations and awards; and

 

Whereas Chief Petty Officer Kent is survived by her husband and two children: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) honors the life of Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent;

(2) recognizes the meritorious service of Chief Petty Officer Kent to the United States in combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria;

(3) expresses condolences to the family of Chief Petty Officer Kent on her passing; and

(4) urges the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense to continue to review and engage with Congress regarding the effect of chapter 15 of the Manual of the Medical Department of the Navy and Department of Defense Instruction 6130.03 on members of the Armed Forces who meet retention and deployment standards but fail to meet accession standards.

 

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