Petraeus: No daylight between public and private moral leadership

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“David Petraeus didn’t betray his country,” Judge Andrew Napolitano told the Daily Caller. “He betrayed his wife. Big deal.” Oh, but it is a big deal, as most military families would understand.

General David Petraeus, takes the oath of office as the next director of the CIA from Vice President Joe Biden, right, as Petraeus's wife, Holly, watches on Sept. 6, 2011. / Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

As the wife of a Military Police officer for 23 years, I know that the private and personal aspects of military life are one and the same. My husband may have worn the uniform and held the rank, but I held down the home front while he served both abroad and in the states. My husband made sacrifices to serve his country; our daughters made sacrifices of birthdays and holidays without their dad. They grew up knowing that anything unseemly they did had the potential to end their dad’s career. They knew that the friends they made today might be gone to a new duty assignment tomorrow, or they might be the ones moving on to a new school and the job of making new friends. Moving was a way of life. By the time we built our retirement home, we were three months shy of our 30th wedding anniversary, and we had lived in over 25 homes. Make no mistake; everyone in a military family makes a sacrifice.

Holly Petraeus served the military for 37 years, as she walked beside her husband and supported him through graduate school, the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and promotion as Director of the CIA. Holly was Petraeus’ closest ally, and he betrayed her. If he can betray her, then we have no idea who or what else he could betray.
Despite his rank, Petraeus does not deserve a free pass. Petraeus failed to meet moral standards on the home front and must take responsibility for his actions. But it’s important to note that his decision and actions do not reflect on our entire military. We cannot paint our military with a broad brush. Sadly, Petraeus’ sex scandal has stirred many mocking tweets and commentary labeling immorality as a military status quo. But for every Petraeus, there are many staff officers, NCOs, and enlisted men and women who serve with integrity, honor, and faithfulness to their families.
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