The good will of the Veterans of Foreign Wars reaches far beyond the realm of veterans helping veterans. In fact, direct involvement with America’s youth and communities has always been — and always will be — a VFW priority.
Each year, nearly 40,000 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.
Knowing that a democratic society needs nurturing, the VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (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 (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
VFW believes strongly in good citizenship and fostering patriotism. That’s why we encourage youthful minds to examine our nation’s history and their own experiences in modern American society through our Patriot’s Pen youth essay-writing contest.
Annually, more than 100,000 students from grades 6-8 (nationwide) enter. One first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national
awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.
Students draft a 300-400 word essay, expressing their views based on an — always patriotic — annual theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.
Some of the VFW’s earliest ties to the community involve youth groups. Few are stronger — and none more lasting — than the close relationship between the VFW and Boy Scouts of America, dating back to 1915.
Each year, the VFW selects three young people — of the Boy or Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts or Venturing Crew — who have demonstrated practical citizenship in school, scouting and the community. The first-place winner receives a $5,000 award, the second-place winner receives a $3,000 award and the third-place winner receives $1,000.
Each year three exceptional teachers are recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students. The VFW annually recognizes the nation’s top classroom elementary, junior high and high school teachers who teach citizenship education topics—at least half of the school day in a classroom environment—and promote America’s history, traditions and institutions effectively.
The Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award
(Teacher of the Year) national winners will receive:
• A $1,000 award to the top K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade teachers for professional development expenses.
• $1,000 award for each winning teacher’s school.
• Plaques for both the winning teacher and school.
• An all-expenses-paid trip to attend a VFW conference and receive their award.