Two local students win VFW scholarships

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has a rich tradition in community service and in Suffolk, VFW Post 2582 recently demonstrated their support of youth by providing two scholarships to area students.

Heather Pontius of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and Aaron Stacy of Lakeland High School were presented with scholarships of $250 each toward their college funds.

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Pontius and Stacy were honored at a banquet Jan. 22, for essays written in the &uot;Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition.&uot;

The students were among 18 who entered the patriotic essay competition. The theme for the essay was &uot;My Commitment to America’s Future.&uot; The Voice of Democracy Chairman, Chris Boroughs, presented the awards to Pontius and Stacy as their parents, Richard and Sharon Pontius and Keith and Darlene Stacy watched the ceremony.

The Voice of Democracy is a National Audio Essay Competition that is conducted annually during the fall school term.

VFW 2582 Post Commander Ray Nelms said the competition was designed to foster patriotism and to give high school students the opportunity to voice their opinion and address their responsibility to this nation.

&uot;The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Ladies Auxiliary would like to see every high school in our country take part in this competition,&uot; said Nelms. &uot;Through classroom study projects and special assignments, students are motivated, while writing and speaking, to express their opinion about their personal obligations and better understand the rights and responsibilities of being an American.&uot;

Students in the 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade of public or private schools are eligible for this competition, Nelms added.

The local VFW Post works closely with other national organizations including March of Dimes, the Points of Light Foundation and America’s Promise-The Alliance for Youth. Nelms said constructive community service is a founding VFW tenet with volunteerism benefiting education, the environment, health sciences and civic projects.

&uot;And, the VFW’s citizenship education program is designed to stimulate an interest in America’s history, its traditions and institutions, as well as promote patriotism,&uot; he added. &uot;The VFW also partners with many other community service organizations and we are proud to be of service to the youth of this city.&uot;

VFW, with its Auxiliaries, includes 2.6 million members in approximately 9,000 Posts worldwide. Each year, they provide about $2.5 million in college scholarships to high school students across the nation.

Some VFW accomplishments include lobbying for a GI bill for the 20th century; donating more than $1 million each to the Vietnam, Korean, Women in the Service and World War II memorials; fighting for compensation to veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome; and improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.

Annually, VFW members and its Ladies Auxiliary nationwide contribute more than 13 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.