By: Kristina Wong
Retired Army Green Beret Joe Kent stepped into the spotlight after his wife, Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent, paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving on the frontlines in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria last year.
He wanted to share her story — of a talented cryptologist who could speak five different languages and had served with special operations forces in the world’s toughest combat zones since 2012, a loving wife and mother.
But recently, Kent has taken on a new role as coalition board member of Military Families for Trump to get President Donald Trump re-elected, so that he can continue to extract U.S. forces from endless wars.
“Trump’s presidency has been pretty important to me,” he said recently in an interview with Breitbart News, recalling when he began to support Trump.
“Going back to the beginning, what I really like about Trump, in particular with his foreign policy, is he’s kind of called out everything that we’ve gotten wrong in the past, at least in my lifetime — the past two administrations, and even going back a little bit further,” he said.
He ran as a Republican but he was very critical of mistakes the Republicans had made over the years, which I thought was very honest, something that you don’t get from most politicians, especially in 2016. Every Republican who stood against him was basically running the standard neoconservative George Bush-esque foreign policy. … It had been a complete and total failure and only made things worse, and Trump wasn’t ashamed about saying that.
He equally went after Obama…for prioritizing some sort of deal with Iran that only resulted in Iranians taking control of most of the Middle East and then completely ignoring ISIS as they took over a large swath of the Middle East and launched attacks against the West. So Trump’s commonsense honesty and him asking the obvious and hard questions of like, ‘Hey, we’ve invested in this lives and the quintessential blood and treasure — what have we gotten out of it?’ So that’s kind of made me a Trump supporter from Day One.
I supported Trump’s decisions then and I support them now, so I would like to see him get reelected so he can continue to put America first — to finish getting us out of the endless wars and rebalance our defense back towards the larger threats, which right now is China.
Kent said in contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden has only delivered failed policies over the last 40 years.
The guy has a 40-year career that we can take a look at starting with all the failed policies regarding China. Biden was right there, cheering along China, even up to a couple of months ago, saying China’s not going to eat our lunch.
Biden has been on the wrong side of pretty much everything…he likes to gloss it over, but he was Bush’s biggest Democrat supporter on the leadup to the Iraq War. He was leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so he put forth a lot of the Iraqi opposition, the guys we found out later were lying through their teeth you know, about weapons of mass destruction and the like. …
The GWOT is obviously near and dear to my heart, and his track record there is just absolutely terrible, so I don’t have any faith that he’d be able to get us out of Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan, I just think he has too much baggage there, he would be trying to create some sort of legacy that would just end up being more diminishing returns.
Kent spoke about what it was like to deploy and serve in the military under the Obama-Biden administration.
The general theme when I was in under Obama was Obama didn’t want to look weak, so he never had the initiative to actually withdraw us from combat like he wanted to do — you could tell he wanted to do that. But he didn’t have the fortitude to actually go ahead and do it. So what that resulted in was deployments continuing as he cut the military budget. The deployments didn’t go away, there were still people in harm’s way, still people fighting and dying, but when we were deployed, we had a real struggle to find what the bigger mission was.
He said he appreciates Trump’s fresh perspective on foreign policy, from a business-like standpoint.
He did something that folks in business and we have to do in the military — if something’s not working, you can’t just keep doing it because it was your idea, and I think that gets lost in D.C., because people get very very in love with their ideas. Folks like talking about the military industrial complex like it’s some sort of like deep conspiracy. To me there’s a much bigger military industrial ideological complex where people just get in love with their ideas, they have a history of things they’ve said, or written, or policies they’ve supported, and then they just continue to double down because they don’t want to be wrong.
Whereas I think Trump is a business guy. He looks at it — and people criticize him for it — but he looks at it almost transactionally. He’s like, ‘OK, if we’re not getting anything out of this, why do we keep doing it?’ Which is the most common sense question ever. It never gets asked.
He recalled meeting President Trump for the first time at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware when families went to receive their fallen loved ones.
He said Trump had obviously read up on Shannon, knew she was from New York, knew what her father and uncle did during 9/11, and knew his background as well. They talked for about 20 minutes, about Shannon and his views on Iraq and Syria.
He asked me my opinion on what was going on in Iraq and in Syria, and a couple of months later for Memorial Day, he had invited quite a few Gold Star families to the West Wing. That did not receive any publicity.
The president at that event took the time to meet with whoever wanted to meet with him and talk. He also connected me with members of the administration to talk national security stuff, particularly Iraq and Syria….he’s pretty funny on TV, the way he seems to be enjoying himself…in person he’s incredibly engaging.
A few months later, he said Trump invited him and other Gold Star Families to the White House, where the president and First Lady Melania Trump spent more time talking with families.
He said Shannon knew Trump was going to win in 2016 before he did.
She’s a New Yorker, and she actually called it. So when he came down the golden escalator … Shannon was into politics, but I always thought that I was more into politics. She was like, ‘Oh, Trump’s running against all these guys, he’s going to win.’ And I was like, ‘Oh you don’t know what you’re talking about,’ because I wasn’t on social media then, and she was. She’s like, ‘you’re not on social media. Trump is going to crush these dudes.’
He said she would be humbled by and grateful for the outpouring of attention her story has gotten today. And he thinks she would be proud of everything he is doing.
“As I was retiring from the military, Shannon said, ‘Hey you’re always reading about foreign policy and the Middle East and stuff like that. You should write and try to get a job doing that, so I think she’d be proud of what I’m attempting to do,” he said.
If he could tell other Gold Star Families one thing, he said, he hopes they get a break from the constant sorrow of losing their loved one, and hopes they can focus on the sacrifice that their loved one made and know that their loved one made that sacrifice so that they could be happy.
“That’s what I try to tell myself on my bad days — Shannon died for the country so we can all live a good life and be happy. I look at trying to stay positive and continue to make a difference and, you know, make the world a little better for my kids, a continuation of her sacrifice.”