From now until Oct. 31, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is giving middle school and high school students the opportunity to compete for thousands of dollars in awards and scholarships and a trip to Washington D.C. in the organization’s annual original essay competitions.

The Voice of Democracy audio-essay completion is a national competition which awards scholarships to high school students based on an original, three-to-five minute audio-essay about this year’s theme: “American History: Our Hope for the Future.” Winning essays will be selected at the local and national level based on: originality, content and delivery, according to the VFW website.

The competition is open to all open to ninth- through 12th-grade students who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or home study program in the U.S.

The national first-place winner will receive 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 will be awarded a minimum of $1,000 in scholarships and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

All entries must be submitted to the local VFW Post 6917 by Oct. 31. For more information visit: www.vfw.org/VOD or contact VFW Post 6917 by phone at: (575) 382-9703, or via email at: sraul7175@gmail.com.

The Patriot’s Pen youth essay competition is a national competition which awards prizes to middle school students based on their original, 300- to 400-word essay about this year’s theme: “America’s Gift to my Generation.” Winning essays will be selected at the local and national level based on: knowledge of theme, theme development and clarity of ideas, according to the VFW website.

The competition is open to all open to sixth- through eighth-grade students who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or home study program in the U.S.

The first-place winner from each state will compete for national awards totaling $54,500, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. The national first-place winner will receive $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

All entries must be submitted to the local VFW Post 6917 by Oct. 31. For more information visit: www.vfw.org/PatriotsPen or contact VFW Post 6917 by phone at: (575) 382-9703, or via email at: sraul7175@gmail.com.

According to the VFW website, each year, nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition. The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (VOD) in 1947 to provide high school students with the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles.

According to the VFW website, each year, more than 132,000 middle school students enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The VFW started the Patriot’s Pen competition in 1995 to encourage students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society by composing an original, patriotic-themed essay.