In his first public speech since resigning as head of the CIA, David Petraeus apologized for the extramarital affair that “caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters.”
The hero of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars struck a somber, apologetic tone as he spoke to about 600 people, including his wife and many uniformed and decorated veterans, at the University of Southern California’s annual ROTC dinner on Tuesday.
“I know I can never fully assuage the pain that I inflicted on those closest to me and a number of others,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus has remained largely in seclusion since resigning after the extramarital affair with his biographer was disclosed. His lawyer, Robert B. Barnett, has said Petraeus spent much of that time with his family.
Dressed in a dark suit and red tie, Petraeus made motions toward a return to public life as a civilian. He spoke of a need for better treatment for veterans and soldiers, though he stopped short of criticizing current practices.
“While our country continues to improve its support and recognition for all of our veterans and their families, we can and must do more,” he said.
The retired four-star general also noted the challenges of transitioning from military life, saying: “There’s often a view that because an individual was a great soldier, he or she will naturally do well in civilian world. In reality, the transition from military service to civilian pursuits is often…