VFW-sponsored contests, essays

Published on: September 17, 2015


The Ruskin Veterans of Foreign Wars looks forward to recognizing the talent and patriotism of local community members. Following is a description of three upcoming essay contests and their deadlines:

Voice of Democracy

Each year, nearly 38,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.

The VFW established the VOD in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles.

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first-place winner from each Florida VFW Department wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

The Voice of Democracy Program is open to students in grades 9-12, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories. To obtain an entry form along with all information needed to compete, visit our web site at This year’s theme is: My Vision for America.

Teacher of the Year

The VFW Teacher of the Year award contest recognizes three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. Each year, a classroom elementary (K-5), junior high (6-8) and high school (9-12) teacher whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education topics can be nominated for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.

Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism are prime candidates for the award. If you know a teacher who plans field trips to city hall, organizes community volunteer projects or invites local veterans to speak in class — anything to help students develop a better understanding of democratic values and beliefs — this award is for them.

To submit a nomination, describe in 350 words or less why you feel your nominee is deserving of the award. Be sure to describe the teacher’s innovative teaching and resource development methods, as well as his or her dedication to education.

Patriot’s Pen

Each year more than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $50,000, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level.

The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March. The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme.

The Patriot’s Pen program is open to students in grades 6-8, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or home study program in the United States and its territories. The 2015-16 theme is: What Freedom Means to Me.

How to enter

Entry forms and additional information is available at Entry deadline is Nov. 1, 2015, for each contest.

All essays and nominations along with the proper entry form can be mailed or delivered to the Ruskin VFW, 5120 U.S. Hwy. 41 N., Ruskin, FL 33572. For additional information, contact Shirley May at 813-645-3410 or