Contests & Scholarships

Just as we work hard to serve and support veterans, service personnel and military families, the VFW sponsors many programs that recognize excellence among youth, students, adults, employers, healthcare personnel and safety professionals who make a difference in their communities. Entries must be submitted by a local VFW Posts that participate in these programs.

  • Barger Nursing Scholarships – The Department awards six $1,000 scholarships to nursing students who are veterans or related to veterans. Applications are processed through the PA State Nurses Association, and winners are chosen randomly by VFW and PSNA representatives. Posts are encouraged to make donations of any size, and/or to participate in the Annual Barger Scholarship Golf Tournament, to help make this fund self-sustaining. For more information contact State HQs at (717) 234-7927. For more information and to learn how to support the tournament click here.
  • Citizenship Education: Teachers of the Year* – Each year, we honor a teacher in the elementary, junior high and senior high school categories for their efforts to teach students about being responsible citizens, about appreciation the freedoms that they have and about the role that veterans have played in keeping America free. Department-level teacher winners advance on to the National  VFW contest. In addition, the PA VFW and its Auxiliary hold a coloring contest each year for grades 2-5 to help young students develop patriotism; one winner per grade. Judging is held in April and Post winners should be sent to the Program Chairman by March 10th. Earlier deadlines apply for submitting entries at the local Post level.
    Coloring Contest for 2nd-5th grades – Schools send winners to a local VFW Post; Posts send winners to the State Chairman by March 10th (see additional instructions in the three-page PDF). 
  • Eagle Scout Award* – One Eagle Scout is presented with the PA VFW Eagle Scout of the Year Award. Entries must be submitted through a local VFW Post, which forwards it to the State Youth Activities Chairman (see “About Us”, “Leadership” section). More info or contact VFW State Headquarters at (717) 234-7927.
  • Employer Awards – The Department presents an award to employers (three size categories) who excel in hiring veterans, plus one individual is honored for helping veterans to prepare for employment. For information contact State HQ at (717) 234-7927.
  • Geiger Scholarship – This annual $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a high school student advancing to secondary education (must be related to a veteran). Deadline for entry is April 1st. For information read this form or contact State HQ at (717) 234-7927.
  • Healthcare Awards – The Department presents three healthcare awards annually. Details and submission requirements
  • Loyalty Day – On May 1, the VFW leads ceremonies to recognize Loyalty to America Day when all citizens are encouraged to reflect on the freedoms they have, to support democracy and to honor those who protect America. Loyalty Day began as “Americanization Day” in 1921 to counter the Communists’ May 1 celebration of the Russian Revolution.
  • Patriot’s Pen (Jr. High Speech Contest)* – Students from grades 6-8 enter to win a cash prize by writing a speech on a patriotic theme. The Department winner will attend a banquet for VFW student scholarships in January and present the winning essay. Click here to view the Department mailing to VFW Posts. For more info including the application, visit this link.
  • ROTC Leadership Awards – The Department presents certificates and medals to leaders of high school ROTC units. To request VFW certificates and/or medals contact State HQs, (717) 234-7927.
  • Public Safety Awards*  – Recognition is given each year to one firefighter, police officer and EMS responder. All nominations must be made through a Pennsylvania VFW Post. Post Commanders: to nominate someone please use the forms found on the Post Info page. Scroll down to Safety Award Nominations and download the combined forms file  or contact VFW State Headquarters at (717) 234-7927
  • Voice of Democracy (High School Essay Contest)*– Invites students grades 9-12 to express themselves about democratic ideas and principles. The District winners will attend a banquet for VFW student scholarships in January where the top five essays are recognized and monetary prizes are awarded. The first-place student will present the winning essay and will receive a free trip to Washington, D.C. to join the other state winners for special activities. As part of this contest program, the VFW holds the Voice of Democracy Teacher of the Year Contest*, which gives recognition to a teacher who encourages students to participate in the contest. For Department of PA VOD contest participation and scholarship donation forms, click here to view the Department mailing to VFW Posts.  General information about the contest can be obtained at * Winners of the programs marked with an asterisk advance to the National VFW competition to represent our Department.