Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary annually offer two essay contests in the fall. The Voice of Democracy (VOD) audio-essay competition for high school students, and the Patriot’s Pen essay contest for middle school students, each have a new patriotic theme each year. This year’s theme for both contests is “What Makes America Great.”

Students submit their original essay to the local VFW Post by Oct. 31. For each contest, submissions must strictly adhere to the rules stated in the entry form. Judging criteria are listed on the contest entry form.

Current entry forms with instructions can be downloaded from the website at vfw.org at “Community,” then “Youth and Education,” then “Youth Scholarships” and the appropriate contest name.

Students at the appropriate level in public, parochial, private or home schools can enter. With no active VFW post in Brown County, students in schools in Brown County who are interested in entering this contest are encouraged to submit their entries to Sabetha Memorial Post 7285.

Foreign exchange students and winners who previously placed in the National finals are excluded from the contest.

For each contest, the top three place winners at the Sabetha Memorial Post 7285 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars level will receive monetary awards locally and a certificate of recognition, and the first-place winner’s essay will be forwarded to district level for further competition. Monetary awards are also given at district, state and national levels.

For more information about these student essay contests, contact Patty Locher, Sabetha VFW Post 7285 Youth Programs Chairperson, at 785-284-0387, or email her at p2equinelover@aol.com.

Send entry submissions to Patty Locher, Sabetha VFW Memorial Post 7285 Youth Programs Chairwoman, 3373 Antelope Road, Sabetha, KS 66534, to arrive no later than Oct. 31. Submissions received after Oct. 31 will not be eligible.

The Department of Kansas (state-level) programs will give scholarships and other awards. First place winners at state level will be forwarded to national level for further competition and awards,


The Patriot’s Pen essay competition gives middle school students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on our nation’s foundation with the prospect of winning scholarships.

In addition to the awards at Department of Kansas level and below, VFW national prizes totaling $54,500 will include a first-place prize of $5,000, plus an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the winner and a parent or guardian. Winners at national level will receive at least $500.


The Voice of Democracy is a script-writing program designed to give high school students the opportunity to voice their opinion on the patriotic theme and to express their thoughts to the American people.

First-place winner at State level is awarded $1,000 plus an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., Feb. 9-March 4, 2019. Department of Kansas second- and third-place winners receive monetary awards of $500 and $300 respectively. A total of $154,000 will be awarded in national awards.

In 2015, Post 7285’s VOD essay selection, submitted by Anna Knapp of rural Bern, placed first at both First District and State, earning Knapp $2,000 in scholarships at the National level as well as two all-expenses-paid trips, one to Washington, D.C., and one to Valley Forge, Pa.

Knapp encourages students to compete

As a result of her Department of Kansas win and all-expenses-paid trips to Washington, D.C., and Valley Forge, Knapp has had quite a number of very interesting experiences in her young life.

“I’ve made connections all over the country as a result of my VFW experience and have been introduced to a whole new field of interests with many opportunities,” Knapp said.

Knapp said her resultant networking has the potential to reap many beneficial results and contacts, including a “group chat” with winners from the “VFW Class of 2016” and beyond.

“We are like one big family with a wide expanse of experiences and interests,” Knapp said.

Knapp entered the annual Patriot’s Pen essay contest each year she was in middle school as well as entering the Voice of Democracy contest her first two years in high school, and she encourages students to seriously consider entering this challenging contest.

“In addition to the experiences you can enjoy if you win, you will learn a lot about our nation’s foundations as you study and do research in preparation for writing your essay on the assigned theme,” she said.

“Writing the essay piqued my interest in politics, economics, and Constitutional Law,” Knapp said. “Even just scratching the surface of these fields of study has helped me to become a better – and more informed – citizen and voter.”

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