Amid the ever-developing story of former CIA Director General David Petraeus’ affair and General John Allen’s potential involvement, another general’s scandal has flown relatively under the radar.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was sent home from Afghanistan in late September on a litany of charges, including forcible sodomy, possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed, engaging in inappropriate relationships, and misusing a government charge card.
Now, Rebecca Sinclair is defending her husband in an op-ed blaming “open-ended” war for what she admits is unacceptable behavior. However, while Sinclair is aware her husband was having an affair, she believes the more disturbing allegations will be dropped.
She explains, via the Washington Post:
Spectators will try to make this scandal about many things: the arrogance of powerful men; conniving mistresses; the silent epidemic of sexual assault in the armed services. But these explanations obscure an underlying problem: the devastating influence of an open-ended war — now in its 11th year — on the families of U.S. service members.
Let me first address the elephant in the room. My husband had an affair. He violated our marriage vows and hurt me tremendously. Jeff and I are working on our marriage, but that’s our business.
Jeff also needs to answer to the Army. That is his business, not mine, and he accepts that. I believe in and support him as much as ever.
I wish I could say that my husband was the only officer or soldier who has been unfaithful. Since 2001, the stress of war has led many service members to engage in tremendously self-destructive behavior. The officer corps is plagued by leaders abandoning their families and forging new beginnings with other men and women. And many wives know about their husbands’ infidelity but stay silent.
Sinclair notes that many military spouses don’t have any alternatives after finding out a husband or wife was unfaithful. If they leave, they risk losing the financial security of military salary, pension, housing and health benefits.
“Because we move so often, spouses lose years of career advancement,” she said. “Some of us spend every other year as single parents. We are vulnerable emotionally and financially. Many stay silent out of necessity, not natural passivity.”
But Sinclair continued:
None of this is meant to excuse infidelity. I expected more of Jeff, and I think he expected more of himself. But we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize the larger reality. My friends who are married to other combat leaders have been my anchor during this crisis. We understand that our soldiers may come home disfigured or injured in such a way that we will become lifelong caregivers. We also understand that they may not come home at all, and if blessed with a reunion, they may carry emotional baggage few could understand. My friends know that it could have been their heartbreak as much as mine. This is the only time in U.S. history that our nation has fought a decade-long war with a volunteer Army. Doing so has consequences. Nothing good can come of families being chronically separated for a decade or more.
While many in our armed forces represent the best of our nation, Rebecca Sinclair concludes, they are also fallible human beings.
She writes: “How we address this strain will say much about what kind of country we are; it will also determine how stable and strong our military is.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.