In his first public speech since he stepped down, former CIA director David Petraeus apologized for the extramarital affair that led to his departure. "I regret—and apologize for—the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters," he told the audience of 600, including his wife and many decorated veterans, at the University of Southern California's annual ROTC dinner.
Petraeus, who, unlike other high-profile officials caught having affairs, never tried to fib his way out of the accusations, is evidently trying to clear the air and move on:
"Needless to say, I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago. I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing. So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret – and apologize for – the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters."
While he began his speech by apologizing for the affair, the retired four-star general focused his talk on the hardships faced by veterans. While refraining from criticizing current practices, he said that veterans and soldiers needed better treatment stateside:
"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 quite challenging… While our country continues to improve its support and recognition for all of our veterans and their families, we can and must do more."
For his speech, Petraeus was given a standing ovation. He then was allowed to cut a cake with a sword (in military tradition) and the President of USC, C. L. Max Nikias, presented him with a gift of silver cufflinks.