HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – Hillsborough Memorial VFW Post # 8371 is now accepting entries to the VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriots Pen national essay competitions.

The VFW is dedicated to promoting patriotism and investing in our future generation. If you know of a democracy-loving high school student interested in a $30,000 college scholarship or a patriotic middle school student interested in winning $5000, these scholarships may be of interest, according to post Commander Tom Cellilli.

The Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 40,000 grade 9-12 students from across the country enter to win their share of $2.1 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.

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The contest starts at the local Post level and the winners proceed to further competition at the District, State and National level. Cash awards are made to the top finishers at each level. The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship. The first-place winner from each State wins a minimum scholarship of $1000 plus an all expense trip to Washington, DC. 

“The top three winners at our local Post level win $300, $200 and $100 based on their order of finish," according to Cellilli.

Judging of each entry is made by a panel of six judges selected from Post members and the general public.

This year’s theme is "What Makes America Great.“

Entry Forms are available through the HHS Guidance department or call/text Commander Cellilli to request an entry form at (908) 255-3669 or by email at cellillijr@aol.com.

The Patriots Pen competition is for students in grades 6-8. The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by writing a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW National Commander-in-Chief.

Each year more than 130,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the Patriots Pen essay contest. The national first-place winner is awarded $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC and each State award winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level.

The first through third place local Post cash awards are the same as noted for the Voice of Democracy awards with the same judging panel being used to determine the winners, according to Cellilli. Entry forms are available through the Hillsborough Middle School administrative office or by contacting Cellilli.

Both contests are open to students who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or a home study program in the United States. Both contest entry deadlines are Oct. 31. All entries must be postmarked by the due date and mailed to Hillsborough Memorial VFW Post # 8371, 601 Route 206, Suite 26-228, Hillsborough, NJ 08844. Complete contest Rules are documented on each contest entry application form. Applicants are responsible for reading and adhering to all stated rules.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation's largest and oldest major war veterans’ organization. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With nearly 1.7 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in nearly 6,400 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans’ service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit the website at www.vfw.org.