TODAY | November 18, 2012
>>> in the past weeks we've heard a lot about david petraeus , the retired four star general embroiled in a sex scandal that cost him his job as cia director . we haven't heard much of his wife of nearly 40 years. just who is holly petraeus ? dean welker takes a look.
>> reporter: she is an army wife, advocate for military families, and a mom. now after 38 years of marriage, holly petraeus is perhaps best known as the woman behind the four- star general at the center of an unfolding scandal.
>> i grew up in a military family, one that has a tradition of service going back to the revolutionary war , although i'm not that old.
>> reporter: a senior visiting her father who was superintendent at west point when she was coaxed into a blind date with young cadet david petraeus .
>> the best decision i ever made was replying, sure, happy to do it, when asked if i would escort a visiting co-ed to a football game .
>> reporter: they married shortly after graduation and during her husband's rapid rise, holly moved more than 20 times in 38 years.
>> she's been mrs. dad for the bulk of the past decade while i was deployed.
>> reporter: inspired by their own is takes as a young army couple, she began to counsel soldiers and their wives.
>> all you have to do is this. so take the pledge. start saving.
>> reporter: earning high praise along the way.
>> i want to thank someone who has made it her life's mission to stand up for the financial security of you and your families, holly petraeus is in it the house. i want you to give her a big round of applause.
>> reporter: all the while she never expected to be caught in the media glare like these women.
>> i apologize --
>> reporter: or to share the headlines with these women --
>> the chief supported them and yet they have this wonderful marriage and very established children.
>> reporter: 40-year-old paula broadwell, her husband's biographer, who had an affair with general petraeus . she is now the target of an fbi probe.
>> how are you doing?
>> reporter: or socialite jill kelley whose complaints about harassing e-mails led to the discovery of the petraeus affair, recently kelley e-mailed tampa's mayor over complaints she's been exploited by the media writing, my family has been put through the ringer and my kids are scared, and calling broadwell a criminal saying she stalked all of us. meanwhile, holly petraeus ' friends say calling her furious is an understatement.
>> you can see that there are healing opportunities. we have seen that with bill and hillary clinton . and then there are times it's irreparable.
>> reporter: still, she is determined, staying at her job and at least for now according to friends continuing to work on her marriage. for "today," kristen welker, are nbc news, washington.