Retired Col. Ken Allard, former dean of the National War College, has considered Petraeus a friend for 30 years. He bristles at the way his colleague has been so casually shunted aside. As he wrote in a recent email, “If you think you know what combat really is, then you don’t. And if you think you understand the story of David Petraeus, then you definitely don’t. And, if you think we should now treat him as anything less than a true American hero then please make that argument while standing well beyond my reach, OK?”

Major Lyons, meanwhile, points out that Petraeus has endured many hardships during his service to the country including moving his family more than 20 times in 30 years. “In some ways he was just adjusting to being back (in the States) with his wife,” Lyons said in reference to the CIA post Petraeus held for just 14 months. Five of the last six years Petraeus had been deployed overseas, leaving his family behind.

“What he did might not have been smart,” Lyons concedes. “But he’s too ambitious and too smart not to come back and make a public contribution. He’s on the beach now, but the people in his inner circle are confident he’ll be back.”