From the left, Catherine Bell, Sally Pressman and Ashanti star...

From the left, Catherine Bell, Sally Pressman and Ashanti star in season 7 of the hit drama Army Wives, premiering March 10, 2013 on Lifetime. (2013) Credit: Lifetime

As happens on actual military bases, the names and faces of some "Army Wives" are changing.

When the Lifetime drama series begins its seventh season Sunday, an obvious absence will be that of founding cast member Kim Delaney ... with the departure of her character, Claudia Joy Holden, explained very early in the run. Longtime co-stars Sally Pressman and Sterling K. Brown are recurring now, but at the same time, the show is getting an influx of performers both new and familiar.

Torrey DeVitto ("Pretty Little Liars," "The Vampire Diaries") plays a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq, now opting for domestic life with her staff sergeant husband (Burgess Jenkins); Glen Cove singer-actress Ashanti appears as a mother of three whose husband (Joshua Henry) serves overseas; Jesse McCartney, who also has dual careers in singing and acting, portrays a new soldier eager to make his mark; and Elle McLemore is cast as the latter's new, young wife, forced to build a life for herself away from other loved ones.

And midway through its new season, "Army Wives" will be joined by a particularly famous new co-star: Brooke Shields, as an Air Force pilot who proves herself a worthy opponent to Army Gen. Michael Holden (Brian McNamara) as each tries to maintain a degree of professional power.

For all the actors who are just starting their "Army Wives" tenures on location in Charleston, S.C., Kelli Williams,

McNamara and Wendy Davis remain prominent on the series -- as does Catherine Bell, whose Denise Sherwood remains so pivotal to the show.

ABC Studios signed the popular "JAG" alum to a new contract early to ensure the drama would have at least another year.

"I'm really enjoying it," Bell says of the rebuilding of the cast. "There are a lot of changes, and while it's the same show, it also feels different. Denise has become the central friend people come to for different reasons, especially as the new girls try to fit in."

Bell shares a reasonable amount of screen time with "Army Wives" newcomer DeVitto, particularly since both of their characters have an affinity for riding motorcycles.

"She's just been so sweet and welcoming and really great to work with," says the Huntington-raised DeVitto, the daughter of Liberty DeVitto, Billy Joel's former longtime drummer. "I like and respect her so much. Even though this show is seven years old, I don't know people expected it to go this long. We aren't sure how the audience is going to react to all the changes, so I still have the same worries and fears you do when you start a new show."

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