'Best times of my life'

Luby is originally from Peoria, Ill. She joined the Army when she was 18, partly as a way to serve her country, but mainly as a means to continue her education after high school.

"My family was not financially able to send me to college; and my sister, brother and I went in the Army at the same time," she said.

"I didn't go out of country but took medical training and took care of wounded men, mainly at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver. I loved taking care of the soldiers, interacting with them and helping them resume their lives. It was one of the best times of my life and helped me to grow up quickly. It shaped my life of what I am today."

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Luby served in the Army for three years. When she left the service, she worked for a time in an Iowa hospital, before moving to Laurel in 1974 with her husband, Jack Luby, who worked for the National Security Agency.

After the move, Luby enrolled at Prince George's Community College and studied nursing. She has worked full time as a nurse for an orthopedic practice in Silver Spring for 36 years.

"I work full time, but I come here every evening, except Wednesdays. This keeps me busy, and I love it. The responsibility is huge, but I have great officers, members and volunteers to back me up," she said.

Post 60 has 1,800 members and last year, the group received an award at the American Legion's state conference for exceeding the previous year's membership numbers. Luby's goal is to have all members pay their dues by January to qualify for a $1,000 award from the Maryland American Legion that will help with the group's bills and add to its available funds.

"We're paying our bills and are not in debt, but we're strapped for cash," she said. "We're trying to raise $100,000 for a new roof because it leaks horribly, and we've just been patching it with Band-aids."

Leaky roofs and finances aside, Luby is enjoying her term as post commander as she and the group's various units expand their work with the Laurel community and veterans of all ages.

"There's nothing like the American Legion," Luby said. "We've all served our country, and we're a family. I love doing what I do here."

Laurel American Legion Post 60 is located at 2 Main St. Membership is open to all current active duty military personnel and their families as well as spouses, children and grandchildren of prior military who served during eligibility dates. For membership information, call 301-725-2302 or email post60@verizon.net.