The Lookout

Who is Holly Petraeus?

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Lookout

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Gen. David Petraeus and Holly are seen on the field before the Super Bowl in Tampa, Feb. 1, 2009. (Reuters)

On Sept. 6, 2011, Holly Petraeus, wife of retired Gen. David Petraeus, stood smiling inside the Roosevelt Room of the White House, clutching a bible next to her husband as he was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden as the 20th director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Now, a little more than a year later, Mrs. Petraeus finds herself involved a scandal, after her husband of more than 37 years resigned from the CIA on Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Holly--then known as Hollister Knowlton--met her future husband in 1973 while she was a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and he a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where Gen. William Knowlton, Holly's dad, was the school's superintendent.

More on their first meeting from a USA Today profile of Holly published in March:

[While] visiting her parents for the weekend [...] a friend of her mother's asked if she'd like to go to the football game with a cadet she knew. But when he turned out to be busy, the woman called the cadet office in search of an escort. The assignment fell to David Petraeus.

Holly was appalled to discover she was going on a blind date. When they sat in the student section, the other cadets--recognizing the boss's daughter--hooted, cheered and gave thumbs-up.

The pair began dating, became engaged in 1974 and were married after graduation at the West Point chapel. They have two children.

[Related: FBI, CIA face questions about Petraeus affair]

While David's service sent the Petraeus family ping-ponging from military base to military base (West Point, Fort Benning, Fort Knox, Fort Stewart, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Bragg, Fort Campbell as well as stops in Washington, D.C., Tampa, Italy, Belgium and Germany) Holly began working to help educate military families like hers.

In June 2003, as a military unit advocate at the Better Business Bureau, she testified at a U.S. Senate hearing. "My husband has been deployed 16 of the last 24 months," Holly said. "This unrelenting pace of deployment is a retention issue. Families will not be willing to go it alone forever, with little relief in sight."

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David Petraeus, seen with his wife Holly, is sworn in as CIA director by Vice President Biden. (Getty)

Last year, Holly was appointed by Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Office of Service Member Affairs, helping military families navigate the often murky financial waters for those with active-duty family members.

Earlier this year, she testified in front of Congress about how the housing crisis is affecting military bases.

"A number of service members have seen no viable alternative but to leave their family in their 'underwater' house and go alone to their new duty station, which may mean a separation of three years or more," Mrs. Petraeus said.

Petraeus stepped down following an FBI investigation that was sparked by "allegedly vicious emails his paramour sent to another woman," the Associated Press said. The woman's identity with whom Petraeus had the affair was not revealed, but multiple reports say it was Paula Broadwell, whose best-selling biography of Petraeus, "All In," was published in January.

"I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair," David Petraeus said in a statement Friday announcing his resignation. "Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours."

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