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VFW Kicks Off Programs for National Awards, Scholarships, & Honors for Teachers & Students October 31 Deadlines for Entries

AVA, Mo. – Students and teachers have opportunities this fall to earn cash awards, trips, honors and prizes on themes celebrating democracy, patriotism, and civic responsibility.  

Commander Scott Huffman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars U.S. Russell T. Scott Post 5993, announced the launch of three national programs for students in grades 6-12 and for teachers. 

Middle school students can compete in the Patriot’s Pen youth essay competition. The competition requires a 300-400-word essay on this year’s theme, “Why I Honor the American Flag.” Students begin by competing at the local Post level. Post winners advance to District competition with District winner advancing to the state competition. State first-place winners compete for their share of thousands of dollars in awards, and the national first-place winner is awarded $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. National prizes start at $500. Each year more than 125,000 students participate nationwide in this contest which is approved by the National Association of Secondary School Principals for National Advisory List of Contests and Activities. Homeschooled students can also enter. Deadline for student entries is Oct. 31 and interested students and teachers should contact VFW Post 5993 at 417-543-5265 for  rules, entry forms, and information and see

The VFW started the Patriots Pen competition in 1995 to encourage young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society.

A $30,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C. is the big prize for High School students competing for the VFW’s Voice of Democracy Scholarship. Students must write and record a three-to-five minute essay on the selected theme using an audio CD or flash drive and present their recording, typed essay, and completed entry form to their local VFW post by Oct. 31. The 2018-19 theme is “Why My Vote Matters.” Competition begins at the local level and then moves to District, State and National. All state first-place winners receive a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and the chance to compete for their share of more than $150,000 in scholarships. The first-place national winner receives a $30,000 college scholarship. Each year more than 40,000 high school students compete for more than $2 million in awards. 

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) started the Voice of Democracy Scholarship program in 1947. The VFW became a national sponsor in the late 1950s and assumed sole responsibility for the program in 1961. The competition as created to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regard to democratic ideas and principles. Interested students and teachers should contact the Voice of Democracy Chairman at VFW Post 5993, at 417-543-5262 to receive rules and entry forms. For info see: Homeschooled students are also eligible to compete.

Commander Scott Hoffman and the members of VFW Russell T. Scott Post 5993 is also seeking nomations for the VFW’s Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Teach Award. Teachers who instill a sense of national pride, teach citizenship education regularly, and promote America’s history and traditions effectively, are good candidates for the national award. Each year, the VFW recognizes three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. The three winning teachers receive $1,000 for their professional development, $1,000 for their school, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to the VFW’s National Convention in July.

Teachers of grades K-5,6-8 and 9-12 can be nominated by fellow teachers, students, supervisors or others. Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette, and patriotism, and strive to help students develop a better understanding of democratic values and beliefs are prime candidates for the award. Nomination forms are due to the local VFW Post by Oct. 31. Nominated teachers compete at the Post, District, and State levels with state first-place winners advancing to the National level.

The VFW enacted the National Citizenship Education Teacher Award in 1999 to identify and recognize America’s dedicated educators. To nominate a teacher for this award, contact the Citizenship Education Chairman at VFW Post 5993 at 417-543-6651 for entry forms, rules and information.

The VFW is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans’ organization, founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936. It is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard, and Reserve forces. The VFW is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs.