Petraeus' wife shares lessons of military life

Holly Petraeus knows the challenges of a military spouse.


After 36 years of marriage and 24 moves, the wife of Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has acquired an "eclectic" résumé, as she puts it.

She has worked as a typist, a test proctor and a machine operator producing training aids, and has volunteered for numerous parent and military groups and functions.

"All of those jobs were a great education on the small moving parts that make up a military installation," Petraeus told an audience of about 500 people assembled Tuesday for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce's annual Women in Business Signature Event.

Petraeus was the guest of honor for an event that this year paid homage to members of the military, their spouses and other family members.

Petraeus now works as the director of the Better Business Bureau's Military Line, which aims to provide consumer education and information to members of the military.

She sends out a monthly newsletter and tries to keep military members and their families from falling prey to scams such as shaky loans, faulty vehicle sales and hijacked identities.

Since taking over the program five years ago, Petraeus has moved four times. Circumstances have changed, however, since she started out as a military spouse, she said.

"They just gave me a laptop and said keep going," Petraeus said.

Earlier in the evening, a ceremony recognized businesses that have worked with Fort Gordon to provide military spouses with information about job opportunities.

The Army Spouse Employment Partners program has resulted in 4,000 job referrals and 167 spouses being placed in employment since a pilot program launched in summer 2009.

"Family member oftentimes, depending on career choice, may find themselves following their soldier and not having a job waiting on them in the next community, although they might have been highly employable in the former community," said Vanessa Stanley, the director of Army Community Service at Fort Gordon.

The businesses recognized included Circle K, CVS/Caremark H&R Block and Marshalls. The companies are not bound to hire spouses but have pledged to spread awareness of their job opportunities, Stanley said.

The local program received positive feedback, she said.