VFW looking for the best of the best

Published 8:30 am Thursday, August 17, 2023

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Charlotte County VFW Post 8902 will once again sponsor the Patriot Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of The Year award recognitions.

If you are a democracy-loving high school student interested in a $35,000 college scholarship or a patriotic middle school student interested in winning $5,000, these scholarships may be for you.

“We’re hoping to have more students participate,” said Butch Hamlett Quartermaster/Adjutant with VFW Post 8902. “As you may recall, last year, one of Charlotte County’s teachers won the district level and was second runner-up at the state level. Charlotte County Public Schools also had a Voice of Democracy winner at the district level as well.”


Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regard to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay.

Each year, nearly 25,000 ninth through 12th-grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $1.3 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.


Each year, nearly 68,800 students in sixth through eighth grades enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards.

Each first-place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first-place winner wins $5,000!

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 chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.

Hamlett said that students should read the rules and eligibility requirements carefully before entering to ensure that they are not missing anything that could disqualify them.

“Last year we had a lot of really good essays but some of them just did not follow all the rules,” Hamlett said. “Maybe they were over the word limit or under the word limit and all of that matters … they have to follow the rules.”

In addition to the Patriot Pen and Voice of Democracy each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars selects elementary, middle, and high school teachers to participate in the Smart/ Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher program.


Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism are prime candidates for this award.

For example, do you know a teacher who plans field trips to city hall or organizes community volunteer projects? Maybe you know an instructor who invites veterans into the classroom to discuss their military experiences.

Perhaps you are familiar with a teacher who fosters the development of democratic values and beliefs through special projects. If you know of such a teacher, honor him or her today.

All current certified/ licensed teachers in grades K-12 are eligible. Previous national winners are ineligible.

According to Hamlett, nominations can be submitted by themselves, fellow teachers, supervisors, family members, or other interested individuals.

Teacher nomination entries must be received at a local participating VFW Post by the Oct. 31 deadline.

Patriot Pen and Voice of Democracy applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2023-2024 entry forms here. https://www. vfw.org/community/ youth-and-education/ teacher-of-the-year

https://www.vfw. org/community/ youth-and-education/ youth-scholarships.