Last week, President Donald Trump was met with nameless allegations that he has mocked our military service members. One Gold Star husband has responded, though, crying foul over the claims against the commander-in-chief.
“When I read the anonymous allegations this week that President Trump spoke disparagingly of our troops, I knew they simply weren’t true — or were taken completely out of context in order to hurt him before the election,” wrote Joe Kent, a Green Beret and combat veteran whose wife, Shannon, was killed by a suicide bomber during a mission fighting ISIS in Syria in January 2019.
In a column published Saturday by NBC News, Kent recalled the moment he met and spoke with the president at Dover Air Force Base, where he awaited his wife’s remains.
“I’d never met a president before Donald Trump. His empathy and thoughtfulness on one of the worst days of my life won my gratitude.”
During their time together, Kent said Trump told him, “Shannon was the real deal, we are lucky to have people like her willing to go out there and face evil for us,” all the while hold his arm on the grieving husband’s shoulder. Kent also remembered the president “held eye contact” the entire time, adding he “could see — unmistakably — the pain I’d seen in the eyes of other senior leaders who ultimately bear the responsibility for sending men and women to their deaths in combat.”
Kent continued describing his time with the Republican president:
Together, as we waited for the plane that would bring Shannon home, we spent another 20 minutes talking about my wife, our children and what an amazing mother, wife and soldier she was. It was clear to me that President Trump truly cared — not just that Shannon and three others had been killed in Syria, but about who Shannon and the three others were as people.
Then the president did something that I did not expect: He asked me what I thought about Syria and what we were doing there. He talked to me — a Green Beret and a combat veteran, not some expert at the Pentagon or a think tank — about the wisdom [of] leaving troops in harm’s way once ISIS’ territorial caliphate had been destroyed. It was clear to me that he was deeply conflicted about whether staying in Syria was worth the lives lost — Shannon and her three colleagues — on that day in January.
Following that hard day in Dover when President Trump was with my family as Shannon came home, I attended another event with him and was able to (perhaps more clearly) talk with members of his staff and family about foreign policy and Gold Star family issues, such as the casualty assistance officer program and changing Defense Department regulations in Shannon’s honor.
Kent went on to praise Trump for not engaging the U.S. in any new wars during his tenure as president, arguing his decisions “have shown our troops more respect than any president in my lifetime.”
“His use of decisive military force only when absolutely necessary, combined with his reluctance to use the military as the sole tool of foreign policy, is not only good and smart, but the sign of utmost respect for the lives of our troops,” he explained.
While Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, may have “offered eloquent rhetoric,” Kent wrote, “very little changed” between his administration and that of former President George W. Bush, save the additional conflict in Syria.
“Previous presidents’ support of endless wars has resulted in the loss of thousands of American lives and cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars,” he continued, “whereas President Trump’s limited use of military force and swift action when needed marks a decisive change from that policy.”
Kent penned the NBC News editorial just days after a report from The Atlantic alleged Trump called members of the U.S. armed forces “losers” and “suckers.”
The president, for his part, called the report “a totally fake story,” arguing he has “done more for the military than almost anybody else.”