‘This is the path Shannon recommended for me.’ Watch veteran and Gold Star husband Joe Kent talk about his military career and life after serving.
After a career in Army Special Forces, 11 deployments, and work in the intelligence community, Joe Kent has seen it all. His experiences in war zones have given him a unique perspective on the wars the United States is fighting and whether those wars are worth continuing.
The death of his wife Shannon —a Navy linguist who assisted in special operations — in Syria drove home for Joe that, concerning U.S. operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, it’s time to be done.
“Those of us who fight the wars and continue to fight the wars, we’re almost too used to it,” Joe says of dealing with loss as a combat veteran. “Every year we’re adding new names to memorials, we’re adding new memorial bracelets, there’s all those traditions we have to try to honor our fallen. To me it’s still very surreal that Shannon is now one of those.”
When Shannon was killed, she was on her fifth deployment. She served as one of just a handful of women in the special operations community. “I wanted to be able to at least share Shannon’s story, obviously so that my sons someday can hear what their mom did and how she lost her life, but also tell the story of other women who have gone over there and fought,” Joe says. “She was honored and there was nowhere else she wanted to be than at the tip of the spear.”
After Shannon’s death, Joe started speaking up about what he had seen and experienced as an Army Green Beret and as a Gold Star husband living with the cost of endless wars. He saw that the strategies the U.S. was pursing were not working, and that the U.S. had crept further and further away from its original missions, specifically in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, many at home have all but forgotten America is even at war. “It’s mostly due to the fact that most Americans, they’re just not affected by it and so they’re not paying attention to it. And that means the lawmakers aren’t going to pay attention to it,” Joe says. “The best bet that we have on the grassroots level, what [CVA] is doing, is getting people to contact their senators and congressmen and say ‘why are we still in these places?’”
Speaking up about the true cost of war and what isn’t working in America’s current wars has become Joe’s mission, and its one Shannon knew he would be well-suited for.
When Joe retired from the military and was making decisions about his future, Shannon suggested he start writing and sharing his perspective on the wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and more. Joe had always thought his talents were better fit for working behind the scenes, but after Shannon’s death, Joe chose “the path that Shannon recommended”: using his experiences to talk about war and foreign policy. “I don’t really have a reason to be quiet,” Joe says.
By sharing his story, both as a veteran and a Gold Star husband, Joe hopes to encourage veterans and civilians alike to challenge the status quo of continuous war.
We support that mission all the way.