U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach,...

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach, left, with VFW Post 5350 Commander Bill Hughes, center, and Air Force officer Tia Beck on St. Patrick's Day 2019 in Westhampton Beach. Credit: Rob Scribner

The saying "united we stand, divided we fall" rang forcefully in the days following 9/11, as our country united as Americans. The phrase remains just as true today; our nation is at its strongest when we choose to unify under our collective values rather than seek causes to divide us.

As a veteran of our conflict in Afghanistan, I reflected on my own experiences in light of recent events, just as thousands of other U.S. service members have.

The benefits of a nation united are straightforward: Unity fosters prosperity, a stronger country and communities, and our own personal happiness and empowerment. When divisiveness tears at the fabric of our nation, what can bring us together?

One obvious answer is right in front of us, and it is one in which everyone can partake: service.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach,...

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach, on board the USS Harry S. Truman in 2013. Credit: Rob Scribner

As we celebrate Veterans Day, I am honored to serve as an officer in the United States Navy and I value my community involvement through the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350 in Westhampton Beach. My outlook has been forged through military service, both at home and overseas. I’ve solidified my values and have been humbled in more ways than I can describe. Above all, service has provided me with a great sense of duty and responsibility to strengthen our nation and improve our communities.

Service is a calling, and is not limited to the military. I also have been shaped by my mentors in our local community and my experiences serving it. As a freshman at Westhampton Beach High School on 9/11, I vividly remember hearing the news as I stood in the school cafeteria, and felt the call to service to my core. That calling grew and led to some of the most rewarding and impactful moments of my life.

In high school, I threw myself into activities like student government, pursued an internship in Congress, and volunteered as a firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Westhampton Beach Fire Department and Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance Association.

Any first responder, veteran, or health care worker knows sacrifice is hard. Holding the hand of a dying hospital patient, going into harm's way to rescue another, and being apart from family are not easy. I have made sacrifices at each juncture, and each time it has been worth it.

Serving alongside my neighbors and supporting them in times of need, I learned some of life’s most valuable lessons. Working together spreads a sense of unity and patriotism. It highlights our similarities and removes the ‘otherness’ associated with our differences. When we work together toward common goals, we naturally view each other as part of the same team, resulting in better outcomes for everyone.

Consider letting this Veterans Day be your call to service — in a way that works for you. Professions such as teaching, law enforcement, fire and rescue, nursing and health care, and the military need the best and brightest minds to step up and make a difference. Places of worship, civic and charitable organizations, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, volunteer fire departments, and ambulance associations offer opportunities to be part of the solution and lessen our national divisions.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach,...

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach, is a member of VFW Post 5350. Credit: Rob Scribner

For those already serving, I encourage you to take a moment this Veterans Day to reflect on what you have already given, what you continue to sacrifice, and the value you bring to unifying our country. Thank you for your sacrifice to make our communities better. It is my distinct honor to serve alongside you.

This guest essay reflects the views of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Rob Scribner, formerly of Westhampton Beach, a member of VFW Post 5350, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.