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General's Wife Says Long Wars Hurt Families

RALEIGH, N.C. - The wife of an Army general facing sexual misconduct charges in North Carolina has written an opinion piece saying that she supports her husband and that the stresses of a decade of war contributed to recent high-profile military scandals.

Rebecca Sinclair's husband, Fort Bragg-based Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, faces a long list of charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships and adultery. The 27-year Army veteran was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being abruptly relieved in May.

Rebecca Sinclair's piece was published just days after retired Gen. David Petraeus admitted having an affair with his biographer and resigned as director of the CIA. During the investigation into the affair, the FBI uncovered flirtatious emails between Gen. John Allen, the top American commander in Afghanistan, and a Florida socialite. Both were married.

In her piece in The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/RXgh5O), Rebecca Sinclair said that her husband spent more than six years in the past decade away from his family and that they moved six times in 11 years.

"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," she wrote.

Rebecca Sinclair said the distance apart isn't an excuse for infidelity. But she said this is the only time in history the U.S. has fought for a decade with an all-volunteer force.

"Nothing good can come of families being chronically separated for a decade or more," she wrote.

She said many military spouses don't have any good options 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."

Rebecca Sinclair also wrote that she supports her husband fighting the charges against him. She said she thinks many of the charges will be dropped because the evidence isn't strong.

"But the damage has been done," she writes at the end of her piece. "It will take years for Jeff to shed the false image of a hard-drinking, porn-dependent aggressor. The other generals will also struggle to rehabilitate reputations they spent decades building. All of these men are human beings, with strengths and fallibilities, and they have families who are under real strain. 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."

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Army Family and Spouse
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