Paula Broadwell makes first public speech in Charlotte

Published: Sep. 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2013 at 9:22 PM EDT
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The Charlotte Rotary Club has speakers all the time, but not all of them pack the room like Paula Broadwell did Tuesday afternoon in uptown.

She gave members an earful about the need, the challenge, and the obligation to help our veterans. Especially those who have been wounded.

She did not speak about the military scandal which thrust her family into a national media frenzy. Broadwell's relationship with General David Petraeus led to his resignation as CIA director and prompted an investigation at the federal level.

"We've developed a road map for transition assistance and it's bottom up. It's community driven," said Broadwell talking about the work she does with veterans support agencies.

It's the passion of a woman who knows personal crisis, who's had to rebuild, who says all the fallout made her stronger. She couldn't have done it without community, and without Charlotte, she said.

"In my experience as well, you can't survive a personal crisis without a little help from your friends and a community which can help you rebuild personally and professionally," she said. "Charlotte is benevolent in this way."

Her hope is that Charlotte is benevolent toward its veterans too. There's a lot to do.

Veterans need jobs, help with mental health, navigating their benefits, housing, better health and wellness. Broadwell said Charlotte is the number one destination for transition veterans according to Veterans Affairs.

Broadwell is working on veteran's issues with groups like Charlotte's BridgeHome, the Warrior Games, Purple Heart Houses, and any corporate sponsors who will help.

Friend and Rotarian Marilynn Bowler invited her to speak.

"Paula had some unfortunate publicity but instead of taking it and hiding and running away... she opted to dig in and say, 'Ok, I made a mistake but watch this!'" said Bowler.

She had a pretty big audience at the luncheon.

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