School system, VFW 1184 partner for essay contests

vfw new scholarship

From Pulaski County Public Schools

Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars national organization hosts two audio-essay scholarships with the goal of awarding a share of over $2.3 million to students across the nation.  Pulaski County students at the high school and middle school level are now being invited and encouraged to participate.

The VFW Voice of Democracy program was established in 1947 to provide students in grades 9-12 with the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles. In this contest, the students write out and then record themselves reading their draft. The recording can be no longer than five minutes.

Each year, the national first place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to their college, university, or vocational/trade school. Points are awarded for originality, content, and delivery.

The theme for The Voice of Democracy this year is “Why Is The Veteran Important?”

Another program, the Patriot’s Pen, gives middle school students the chance to write an essay of 300 to 400 words expressing their views based on the given patriotic theme. This contest is open to students in grades six through eight. Nearly 68,800 students participate each year to win their share of $1.4 million in state and national awards. Each first-place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, with the chance to win $5,000 for first place at nationals.

The theme for The Patriot’s Pen this year is “My Pledge To Our Veterans.”

The biggest issue, according to VFW Post 1184 in Pulaski representative and Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran Joe Cruff, has been exposure for the program due to COVID and other issues.

“We were in the process of trying to get the word out to everyone when COVID hit and shut everything down,” Cruff said. “We’re hoping that with this partnership with the school system, we can really get students involved. We want to give our local students the chance to participate and compete in this program. It’s a great opportunity to earn some money for college, bring some positive exposure to the community and school system, and to instill a sense of confidence in our young people. It’s also a great way to show your American Pride and patriotism.”

Full rules and eligibility requirements can be found at the new links for these activities, located on the Pulaski County Public Schools website,

The direct link for The Patriot’s Pen is

The direct link for The Voice of Democracy is