Marine Dad Offers Online Help to Families

By Paul X. Rutz

Andrew Lubin knows what it’s like to worry. Now this Marine dad is going online to share what he has learned to help others whose sons, daughters and spouses are going into combat.

Starting now, Lubin will be online regularly at Military Family Network (www.emilitary.org), a Web site devoted to working with community groups, local governments and businesses to support military families.

He will answer questions from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. weekdays, and 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. If all goes well, he will add more time during weekday evenings in April.

"There are a lot of people who feel the same way," he said. "Get on the computer, reach out to us, and we’ll make sure that we take care of you."

Lubin, a professor of economics, logistics and political science at American Military University, is the author of the book "Charlie Battery." It details one Marine unit’s training, deployment and frontline combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His son, Philip, a Marine artilleryman, has done two tours in Iraq.

Lubin said he hopes to accomplish two major goals with this online forum: to "dispel rumors" and "hold people’s hands" when bad news comes.

"If I can get online at whatever time and say, ‘OK folks, this is awful, but it happened in … wherever,’ parents who have got kids in other parts of the country, ideally (are) going to know that their young men are safe," he said.

Supporting the troops through the Web has become natural to Lubin over the past few years, he said. Since the initial 2003 invasion of Iraq, he has maintained a Web site, called "Bravo Battery in Iraq," for his son’s unit. Through that site, he has found ways to foster public support for servicemembers and begun several fruitful connections with other people working to do the same.

"Corporate and individual America can’t be more supportive of the troops," he said. "Once they’re asked, they can’t respond quick enough."

Caroline Peabody, president of Military Family Network, first contacted Lubin through his Web site, he said. Her group needed a volunteer to run the Marine Corps side of her site, and Lubin said he saw potential for better communication through that arrangement.

"Caroline has a great organization, and I’m pleased to be a part of it," Lubin said.

The network is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department initiative facilitating grassroots and corporate support for the nation’s troops and their families.

Son of two former Marines and father to one currently deployed, Lubin said his reasons for volunteering with Military Family Network are clear.

"I get asked all the time, ‘Do you support the war?’" he said. "Immaterial. I support the troops. I support my son and his group. … When your kid goes offshore, that’s a whole different mindset."