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Scott Rager: A Veteran’s Unwavering Commitment to Service and Community

Whether he is protecting his country or volunteering locally, U.S. Navy and Army veteran Scott Rager has spent his life giving back.

Passionate about helping those around him, he participates in various service organizations. Despite his life taking many unexpected turns, the one constant has been his selfless desire to help others.

In 1978, Scott joined the U.S. Navy, inspired by his brother, Tom. “My older brother had joined the Navy and I sort of followed in his footsteps,” he said. Going in, he wanted to become a gunner’s mate, meaning he would be in charge of the operation and maintenance of guided missile launching systems, underwater explosive weapons, gun mounts, and other ordnance equipment. Following boot camp, Scott went into basic electricity and electronics school. He then went to gunner’s mate, a school where he finished his training.

Scott was stationed aboard a landing ship tank (LST), the USS Orange County. Used to transport Marines, the USS Orange County was an amphibious transport ship. Next, Scott served on a patrol gunboat out of Little Creek, Virginia. Built during the Vietnam War, the ship was used for high-speed coastal interdiction. “As a gunner’s mate, it was ideal duty because we had lots of armament aboard that vessel,” he explained.

While stationed in Virginia, Scott was introduced to Karen, a naval photographer. Scott’s close friend from boot camp married a girl who had gone to boot camp with Karen. Scott and Karen’s friends introduced the two, and in 1980, they were married.

In 1982, Scott’s tour ended while he was serving aboard the USS Harlan County. Karen and Scott had welcomed their first child, so he decided to leave the Navy but stayed in the Navy Reserves. He was part of a special boat unit based out of Little Creek, Virginia that did riverine warfare and trained with the Navy Seals. He then traveled to Pittsburgh where he was part of a mobile mine assembly group. Afterwards, Scott moved again and was stationed out of Earle, New Jersey.

After a few years of being inactive in the Navy Reserves, Scott moved to New York. At the time, he was looking for work and saw an advertisement looking to hire an armorer at a tank unit. During the interview process, he was told that joining the National Guard would help his chances of getting the position. “I didn’t get hoodwinked, but I sort of got sucked in a little bit into the National Guard, but it was a good choice,” explained Scott.

The armorer position was never activated, but Scott had many successes during his time in the National Guard. He started in Hoosick Falls, where he worked at an armor unit for a few years. The armor unit was transitioning from M60 tanks to M1 tanks. However, Scott was a Staff Sergeant working as a Sergeant, and therefore, had to find a new position so he didn’t lose a stripe. He transferred to the division headquarters intel section and stayed for four years before being offered a Senior Ammunition Sergeant promotion out of the division support command unit in Troy, New York.

After a few years in this position, he once again received a promotion and transferred to the support battalion unit in Utica, New York. While relocating so often was difficult, Scott knew it was essential to move up in his military career. “If you really want to obtain some type of rank, you really have to be willing to move because in one particular unit, there’s only so many people that can be promoted up the chain of command,” he explained.

Scott was serving as an active member of the National Guard on September 11, 2001, when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. He was serving as a senior noncommissioned officer at the time, and was sent down three weeks after the attack. He had various teams that did security missions on the east side of the WTC. They were stationed along different access points to keep civilians away from the damage and escorted VIPs to the towers so they could see the destruction.

Throughout 2002 and 2003, his teams continued various security missions in New York City during the holidays. His last tour in the city was the 2004 Republican National Convention. During this time, he was preparing to retire but received an invitation to travel to England for three weeks on a tour with the Territorial Army, England’s version of the National Guard. He accepted and traveled to many places like Belgium, France, England, and more as a liaison for the U.S. National Guard.

After years of service, he retired shortly after returning from the trip. Due to his time in the Navy and National Guard, Scott had the opportunity to go on an honor flight with his wife. Originally, honor flights were only offered to World War II veterans. However, more recently, they are allowing multiple different veterans this opportunity, to recognize and thank them for their service to the country. During the all-paid-for trip, the veterans on the flight have the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. and visit the monuments. “It was very special for both of us to go on that honor flight,” said Scott.

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During his trip, he and his wife spent two days in Washington D.C. getting to see Arlington, the changing of the guards, the Vietnam War memorial, the Korean War memorial, and more. There were many touching moments experienced during the trip, one of which Scott shared was when a Vietnam War veteran found his friend’s name on the memorial. Additionally, this honor flight had the most women out of any others, with 10 female veterans.

“It was an exceptional experience just to be able to travel with fellow veterans. Any veteran that has an opportunity to go on an honor flight, whether they’re a combat veteran or cold war veteran, should take advantage of it,” said Scott.

During his time serving in the National Guard, Scott was also working as a salesman. Despite being successful in the position, this career endeavor was not something he had originally planned. “It’s kind of funny; I never wanted to be a salesman,” he explained.

He started working at The Valve and was the first employee in the department. As a result, he had to hire his replacements while the business grew, and he worked his way up, eventually working himself out of a job. He knew more about the product than anyone else and had to begin training the sales representatives, which jump-started his career in sales. After a few years, his position was terminated, leaving the New York companies he was representing without coverage. He asked some companies if they would give him the product lines if he were to start his own business. Immediately, six companies said yes. Scott took the risk and created S.A.R Sales in 1999. At the time, his daughter was just starting college and he was going to a fully commission-based pay.

“It was scary because I was leaving a salaried position where I was doing fairly well and I was going to an unknown as a sales rep,” he shared. Despite the challenges, Scott had a lot of support from those around him, especially his wife. “My wife worked as a silent partner in the business doing my graphic design and some of my books,” he explained. As a graphic designer, Karen was able to help out a lot, and she often took on more responsibilities when Scott was away with the National Guard. Scott jokingly described her as the “unpaid employee.”

In addition to his successful sales career, Scott has also always tried to be an active member of his community and volunteer whenever he could. “I’ve always tried to give back,” he explained, “I started giving blood when I was younger, and I’ve been doing that for 50 years.” In addition to donating blood, he is an active member of the Glens Falls Lions Club, the world’s largest service organization. Scott knew about the Lions Club as a kid, but he joined around 21 years ago after a friend suggested he get involved with the organization. The Lions Club has several global causes including vision, childhood cancer, diabetes, disaster relief, environment, humanitarian, hunger, and youth.

The Glens Falls group hosts various fundraisers to raise awareness and support the causes. They sell food, coffee, and drinks at the Adirondack Balloon Festival, and more recently they started a garage sale. This, they year will be hosting their 21st golf tournament at Airway Meadows. In addition to the Lions Club, Scott also participates in the Longest Day to support Alzheimer’s awareness. He discovered the event through John Marcantonio, who unfortunately passed away in 2023. John founded the ‘Paint the Peaks Purple’ fundraiser, where people pledge to hike a mountain and fundraise to support the cause. Scott has participated in the event for several years.

Today, Scott is looking forward to retirement and having more time to spend with his family and friends. He has a daughter, Rhiannon, who lives in Las Vegas and works as a school psychologist. His son, Nathan, is a research and development chef working in Chicago. Scott is a huge outdoorsman and spends a lot of his free time fishing or hunting. He is currently working on becoming a member of the Adirondack 46ers, with five already completed. He is a Lake George 12ster and is also working on the fire tower challenge. He has completed 18, and only has five left.