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Teachers, Students Honored for Dedication toTroops




SACRAMENTO - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Department of California awarded several teachers and students for their continued commitment to the United States Military by distributing VFW's National Citizenship Education Teacher Awards, Patriot's Pen Award and Voice of Democracy Award at this year's annual Awards Banquet on Jan. 17 at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West.

 The VFW launched the National Citizenship Education Teacher Award in 1999 to recognize classroom teachers for promoting citizen education with their students. This year, VFW was proud to present this award to three dedicated California teachers - all who have proven to be teachers devoted to honoring our troops by educating their students on important veterans' issues.

The entries for all three teachers have been forwarded as nominees to VFW National Headquarters for the National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.

    * K - 5th Grade: Ms. Christy Vargas, Bear Mountain Elementary Schools located in Arvin, California. 
    * 6th - 8th Grade: Mr. John Paul Saindon, Freedom Middle School located in Bakersfield, California. 
    * 9th - 12th Grade: Mrs. Penny Shuey, Don Pedro High School located in La Grange, California.

 The Patriot's Pen contest is in its sixteenth year and gives 6th, 7th and 8th grade students the opportunity to express their opinion on a patriotic theme while improving their writing skills as they compete. State winners compete for $7,500 in U.S. Savings Bonds with the national winner receiving $10,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds during the March 2014 VFW and Ladies Auxiliary Community Service Conference in Washington D.C.

 The Department of California's First Place Winner is Lenna Foster, a 6th grade student who is attending St. Anthony School in Atwater, California. Lenna's essay has been sent to the VFW National Headquarters as a Nominee for the National Patriot's Pen Essay Contest.

 The National Association of Broadcasters started the Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition in 1946. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States became a national sponsor in the late 1950s and assumed sole responsibility for the program in 1961.

 The Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition provides high school students with the opportunity to write and record a broadcast script on a patriotic theme, competing for more than $2.3 million in college scholarships and incentives. The theme this year was, "Why I'm Optimistic About our Nation's Future."

 Eliana Llamas, sponsored by District 24, received First Place in California's Voice of Democracy Contest and was awarded $2,000 in scholarship money. Eliana will go on to our Nation's Capital to compete with 53 other finalists for the grand prize - a $30,000 scholarship. 

The winner of last year's VFW Department of California Voice of Democracy Program, Danielle Hayes of San Francisco, went on to be named the first-place national winner and recipient of the $30,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship Award in Washington, D.C. 

To learn more about the VFW's National Citizenship Education Teacher Awards, Patriot's Pen Contest and the Voice of Democracy Contest, visit us online at www.vfw.org

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans' service organization composed of combat veterans and those who currently serve on active duty or in the Guard and Reserves. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation's largest organization of war veterans and is one of its oldest veterans' organizations. With 2.1 million members located in 7,700 VFW Posts worldwide, the VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to "honor the dead by helping the living" through veterans service, legislative initiatives, youth scholarships, Buddy Poppy and national military service programs.  Annually, the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 11 million hours of community service to the nation.