John Kleindienst

In your leadership role with DAV, it’s important to recognize volunteers every chance you get. Expressing your thanks, sharing their accomplishments and rewarding their efforts are all ways you can do this.

All of us at DAV’s national voluntary services department are here to help you with your recognition efforts. One way we do this is by annually giving 10 DAV Scholarships to student volunteers. With $110,000 in total available and the top award at $30,000, the goal is that these scholarships will lay a foundation of volunteerism and care for our nation’s veterans.

We shouldn’t keep the availability of these scholarships quiet. More awareness means there’s a greater chance that more students will volunteer and more veterans will be helped. With enough interest, it’s possible for the scholarship program to grow, too.

As DAV leaders, you have a role in making this happen by sharing this opportunity with people in your community. Talk to students you encounter. Have conversations with school counselors and with volunteer program coordinators at the Department of Veterans Affairs. See if other DAV and Auxiliary members might have children or grandchildren that could benefit from our offerings. Nominate eligible students for the scholarships. The more you spread the word, the more lives—both students and veterans—are positively affected.

The goal of our scholarships is to inspire volunteerism in our nation’s youth. It’s an investment into their lives, and we’re seeing huge dividends. Many of our past recipients have said that the reward from the scholarship goes far beyond the money they’ve received. They’ve discovered a passion for serving others. They’ve had a chance to get to learn about and better understand the sacrifices veterans have made on their behalf. They’ve discovered new career pursuits.

Liam Browning, who received a $5,000 scholarship in 2018, said he was a shy kid growing up but volunteering helped him come out of his shell. It also helped him discover what career he wanted to pursue. He’s currently finishing up a degree in medicine and hopes to someday help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries.

Ayva Kacir received a $7,500 scholarship in 2022. She said she found that being a volunteer gave her opportunities to use her skills to benefit others. Working with her local VA medical facility, she’s done extensive outreach to inspire and recruit other youth to volunteer for veterans.

In 2021, Anit Tyagi won a $7,500 scholarship. He said although it helped with his tuition, it more importantly inspired him to keep volunteering. He recently launched a program at the VA medical center in Aurora, Colorado, to interview and preserve veterans’ stories so their families and doctors and families have a permeant record of those experiences.

These three young adults are just a small sample of the outstanding students we have the privilege of interacting with because of the scholarship program. As DAV leaders in your communities, you have connections to so many more. Your efforts can help inspire more people to volunteer for veterans. And for those students who are already putting in the hours, you should be encouraging them to apply for the scholarship.

To help you in your outreach efforts, each year we email DAV departments a contact list of scholarship-eligible student volunteers in your state. We also send individual letters to qualifying students letting them know about the scholarship opportunity.

To qualify to receive one of our awards, students must be 21-years old or younger and have volunteered at least 100 lifetime hours in the name of DAV.

The scholarship application process is straightforward and digital. Returning applicants and DAV or Auxiliary members should log in to the application system at New users will click the registration link.

The form asks some basic biographical and eligibility questions. Other questions seek to better understand the impact the volunteer has made in their community and why they stand out. We also want to know how they plan to use the scholarship and how they intend to serve veterans in the future.

The final requirement is a 750- to 1,000-word essay on what volunteering has meant to the student.

Students who receive a scholarship must use it before they are 25-years old or within six years of receiving the scholarship, whichever is later. Recipients can use the scholarship at any accredited institution of higher learning including universities, colleges, community colleges and trade schools.

Volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take effort. VA medical facilities are a great place to start, but you can also help students in your area achieve their hours by creating opportunities for them to serve veterans. Host yard clean-up days. Invite students to a homeless standdown event. Connect them with veterans who may need help with light errands. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

Thank you for your support of the DAV Scholarship program over the years. It’s played a significant role in inspiring the next generation of volunteers to care for those who’ve sacrificed so much for our country.