VFW announces Patriot’s Pen, VOD contests

Local students could win trip to D.C., scholarships worth $30K or $5K

The Veterans of Foreign Wars and their auxiliaries of District 26 announce this year’s “Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition for ninth- through 12th-grade students and the “Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition” for sixth- through eighth-grade students.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed both programs on the NASSP National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2019-20.

Any student, either high school or home-schooled is eligible to compete in either contest.

The annual “VOD Scholarship Competition” audio essay competition offers thousands of dollars in scholarships, a trip to Washington, D.C, and dozens of other awards.

Each year, more than 40,000 students compete for more than $2 million in scholarships and incentives.

During the more than 70 years that the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its auxiliary have been involved with Voice of Democracy, more than 8 million high school students have participated.

Students compete by writing and then recording a three- to five-minute audio essay expressing their views of this year’s patriotic theme ‘What Makes America Great.”

All state winners receive at least a $1,000 National Scholarship — but any one of them could win the $30,000 first-place scholarship award.

A girl from Somerset was the top winner for the past event. The state VOD winner, and parent or guardian, will enjoy an all-expenses-paid, four-day tour of Washington, D.C., along with the winners from every state, the Pacific Areas, Latin America/Caribbean and Europe.

For many of these years, the students have been invited to the White House to visit with the President of the United States.

Younger students (about 125,000, nationwide) in the “Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition” have an opportunity to win part of more than $55,000 in awards.

This year’s patriotic theme is also “What Makes America Great.”

Students type an essay of at least 300 words and not more than 400 words. Any entrant could win the top national award of $5,000.

In the past, Pennsylvania’s entries have won the top national award several times, along with an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., with a parent or guardian.

Students in both categories begin by competing at the local post level.

Post winners then advance to district competition. A winner from each of Pennsylvania’s 24 VFW districts competes in the state competition where a winner will be selected in January at the Mid-Winter Conference in the Harrisburg area to compete and advance to the national level.

The deadline for student entry in both competitions is Oct. 31 (to your local VFW chairman).

Independent judges are selected to review entries without knowing who submitted the entries.

There will be at least one winner from each school that participates.

Interested students and teachers should contact their school for application materials or Deborah Mock, District 26 VFW Auxiliary VOD/PATRIOT’S PEN Chairman, at 724-422-0400 for additional information.

More information and application materials can also be obtained by visiting the National VFW website www.vfw.org. You can also hear previous VOD and Patriot’s Pen winners deliver their essays on that website.