Sailor's Combat Death Leads to Navy-Wide Policy Changes

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by HK_User, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent. (U.S. NAVY)
    6 Feb 2019 | By Gina Harkins
    Navy officials are changing what a top admiral called "fundamental flaws" in its waiver and appeal process for commissioning programs after a sailor who was denied a chance to pursue a career as an officer was sent to Syria, where she was killed in a suicide bombing.

    Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, sent a letter detailing the changes to the family of Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon Kent, Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

    The action follows a call from seven lawmakers demanding that Navy leaders explain how they planned to update the policies that left Kent deployed to the war zone after rejecting a plan that would have allowed her to pursue a doctorate degree as part of a commissioning program.

    The Navy denied Kent's plans to attend a clinical psychology program, Stripes reported, because the 35-year-old mother of two had previously been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Despite that, the service considered her fit to deploy, and the linguist landed on her fifth combat tour in November when she was sent to Syria where she -- along with 18 other people -- was killed by a suicide bomber on Jan. 16.

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    In his Tuesday letter, Moran told the Kent family he had reviewed and discussed "every aspect of the policies and processes in place during Shannon's application to become a clinical psychologist," according to Stripes.

    "There were many shortcomings in Shannon's case, mainly in our communications throughout and in fundamental flaws in our waiver and appeal process -- I offer no excuses," Moran wrote to the family. "... We believe this new policy will improve the quality, fairness, and consistency of the medical waiver process for all enlisted to officer commissioning programs, and I will report back to you in one year to inform you of our progress."

    Now, sailors who are deployed and seek a waiver, like Kent did, will have the highest consideration, according to a memo detailing the changes that Moran’s office provided to The Navy will also standardize its appeals process, including peer reviews for waivers and an option for sailors to get a second medical opinion, the memo states.

    Kent's family had asked Moran to review the policies after her death. It's work Kent started last summer when she, along with her husband, sought the help from lawmakers after her waiver requests to pursue her doctorate had been denied.

    Enlisted troops who want to become officers must meet higher medical standards than those already in uniform, Stripes reported. Since Kent had previously been diagnosed with cancer, she was disqualified.

    Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has gone to bat with several Pentagon leaders on troops' behalf, wrote to the Navy secretary last summer to get that rule changed. He called the policies discriminatory, adding that they prohibited upward mobility for enlisted personnel.

    When asked whether the Navy would take the policy review a step further by allowing personnel who have previously been diagnosed with cancer but are now in remission a chance at a commission, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters last week that it would require help from Defense Department leaders.

    "That's a DoD rule," Richardson said. "The first thing we ought to make sure is that we honor Chief Kent for her tremendous sacrifice and her commitment to her oath to support and defend the constitution. We want to be mindful that we're ... communicating with her family first and foremost as we work through this."

    Kent's family told Stripes they hope to take up the issue with Defense Department leaders next for a military-wide fix. In the meantime, Kent's husband said he is pleased with Moran's response.

    "The Navy has done all they can and moved rather quickly," Joe Kent told Stripes. "They "changed as much of the commissioning process and waiver process as they can in their capacity as an individual service."

    Editor's Note: This story has been updated.
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  2. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Boy-oh-boy ain't this a load of crap. Well enough to deploy and get killed but not well enough to go to school... Anyone still think we're aren't anything but fodder? Oh, I imagine they'll change this now that someone got killed to highlight the unfairness and injustice of it, doesn't help the Chief though. Rest In Peace, Chief. All the best. In the end, you won and righted a wrong.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  3. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    The Navy has never been very good at manpower management. This story and, those like it, breaks my heart. R.I.P. CPO Kent, you served your country honorably and stand relieved.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    It's fine to take shots at the programs, or to point out flaws. Bear in mind that even the has an axe to grind and unless you sat on her review board, the why of the denial will be lost. Take it from one that was denied a similar program (don't ask) there is always something else to look at.

    In Chief Kent's case (as in my ex BIL's case, don't ask) the needs of the service overrode other concerns. Consider also that Chief Kent would not have been admitted in a line progression, simply due to health concerns. What the canoe club needs most NOW is competent ship's officers. Chief Kent would have been in a service command chain, not an unrestricted chain of command.

    Dot mil is currently under funded, on land, on sea, in the air. Believe it or not, funding has to be appropriated by congress, it ain't automatic. Write your congress critter, point your complaints in that direction.

    RIP Chief Kent, and condolences to your family.
  5. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    You may have overlooked “Mother of two”

    Last I looked candidates for OCS Had to be both single and no kiddos. Maybe her child care plan or lack of one worked against her for the appointment.

    Or not
  6. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    But, the write-up makes it sound like she was denied school due to her physical condition which in truth, I understand because the Navy wouldn't get their time back from her, basically throwing away money if she died of illness or was retired due to it; sad, but shows sound judgment. But, if that was the case, and she was denied because she was sick (or in regression) what the hell was she doing on deployment in a combat zone? Anyway, that's my bone to pick about it and apparently, there must be something to it because an Admiral got involved and now they're making press about it.

    "Dot mil is currently under funded, on land, on sea, in the air."
    Yeah, well, they're not getting my vote for more money. I just did my taxes and I am not a happy camper. I will vote to stop these ridiculous deployments with Marshall Plans attached to them to places that have little or no significance to us and half the time hate our guts no matter how much blood and/or money we give them. Either that or they can sell a few of their F-35s or an aircraft carrier group or etc... Don't know and don't care. I'm tapped out. Bring them all home and guard the border.

    @DKR "Last I looked candidates for OCS Had to be both single and no kiddos."
    Yeah, I saw that but she is married also and I don't think she can even apply if she couldn't meet the guidelines/prerequisite so I assumed she could and was denied for other reasons in this case it 'sounded' like physical condition (illness).
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  7. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I did not miss it, but I'm pretty sure that OCS was not part of it; the article was for a PhD programs which may no longer have that as a dis-qualifier. My point was and remains that we, from here, cannot see nor know what the selection board may have considered.

    A CPO with a 4 year college degree would be very unusual, not impossible, but unusual. That's another flag I saw. It IS possible for her to have earned a degree with correspondence courses. Again, we don't know, BUT a PhD will normally take at least 3 years post bachelors, and that doesn't count the time to take prerequisites that the university might require.

    Now, given the PTSD running rampant these days, there MAY be a billet somewhere for an active duty clinical psychologist. Not in my day, that was for the VA to handle.
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  8. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @ghrit "A CPO with a 4 year college degree would be very unusual, not impossible, but unusual."
    Is that because of sea duty or ? I wouldn't say it was normal in the Air Force or Army but it wasn't unusual. More so in the AF more than Army, mainly because they had the larger and more permanent bases so more access to university classes at night.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  9. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    How ever you cut it, any assignment it will always be at the convenience of the service.
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  10. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    I put in for Operation Deep Freeze and was picked as the first alternate and spent the next 3 years in Hawaii. The Mil wanted me to go to OCS right out of Boot Camp. I decided otherwise.
    You can circumvent the system but you pays your money and takes your chances in the out come at the convenience of the service.
  11. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    That sounds like a typical bull shit excuse to fill a spot on a deployment.
    The airforce does this too.
    Too sick (but apparently cured) to go to school but fine to deploy, yeah.
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  12. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Back in the day, a degree would almost certainly put you ahead of the "normal" enlistee and in line for OCS if you wanted it AND passed selection, whether volunteer or draftee. Especially if a technical degree, engineer or scientific, less so if underwater basket weaving. (We had several guys taking correspondence courses underway and on deployment intending to go to school either in or out of the service. Or, just for the halibut, patrols can be boring as hell.)

    Those two guys you met were possibly in the NESEP program or one of it's followon programs if they were enlisted. NESEP: was scientifically oriented but it would not have been unusual to take business courses at any particular level as an elective. NESEP grads were eligible for line officer billets.

    If they were officers ("sub driver" could apply to either enlisted or officer) the Navy did, and does to my knowledge, send folks out for advanced degrees in certain disciplines.
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  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    BS or not, the needs of the service rule assignments. The articles of enlisment AND the oaths taken acknowledge that. There are no arbitrary limits set as long as the needs of the service are met. You cannot get away from the detailing desk. All 5 services fall under that thar control.
  14. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor Site Supporter+

    Part of this might have been at her request. If she had less than 18 years service and was in a situation where the service was encouraging her to accept return to full service or face a medical review board which in my opinion either mostly have cut and dried guidelines that leave very little room to maneuver, and would have discharged her medically. With her being short of 18 years in she would not get retirement pay, just a questionable amount from the VA. If she accepted a return to full service she could be sent anywhere the service deemed a need. This in my opinion is probably how and why she ended back in a combat zone. I missed that she was 35 years old. In at 18, at 35, has 17 years service. Enlisted or Officer, I am pretty sure she wanted her retirement. With 18 years plus if they did a Medical board on her she would easily received a 50% VA disability tax free for rest of her life. She had to accept a return to full service to get to the 18 year point.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  15. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    As it should be by the very definition of military force.
  16. Wildbilly

    Wildbilly Monkey++

    Sounds like a waste of Tax/ Navy dollars to me. If she was only a few years from retirement, medical or otherwise, then sending her to OCS or college would be a waste of both time and money. Yea, she would still be alive, but some other sailor would be dead in her place.
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  17. wideym

    wideym Monkey+++

    It it sad to hear of death of her and the others, but as stated "the needs of the service" takes precedent. My takeaway from the article is that it seems to blame the sailors death on being deployed, not from the attack. We can all "what if" the situation, yet it comes down to : Was she deployed as her naval rating dictated or was she just "filling" a spot for someone else?

    I do not know much about Navy polices, but from my experience in the Army, they do not want 35 year old midshipmen (also most likely middies with two children). I have seen direct commissions, but all were medical doctors who has already finished residency and were in a shortage MOS.
    HK_User likes this.
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