Skip to main content

Northwest Elementary Teacher Receives VFW's Top Award

Posted Date: 04/30/2024

Northwest Elementary Teacher Receives VFW's Top Award

Story credit: VFW Veterans of Foreign Wars

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is pleased to announce Eugene V. Struzik III, an Air Force veteran and fifth grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School in Dodge City, Kansas, has been selected to receive its 2024 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at the elementary school level.

Struzik, sponsored by Howard Gotschall VFW Post 1714 in Dodge City, Kansas, was chosen for his passion and work to instill a sense of appreciation and patriotism amongst his students and community. From coordinating a Veterans Day commemoration to his work establishing Project Mail Call: Honoring Our Veterans which allowed his students the opportunity to write several cards to veterans embarking on a Kansas Honor Flight.

Struzik, an Air Force veteran with 26 years of service, hit the ground running as a new teacher in 2019. His military experience has helped him connect with students and allowed him the opportunity to enrich their lives while also reminding them of their civic responsibility and the true cost of their freedom. In addition to participating in Project Mail Call, his students write and deliver Valentine’s Day cards to local service members stationed at Fort Dodge, actively discuss the ways in which citizens can voice their concerns and routinely write to elected officials, giving them a proactive mindset and understanding in the part they play in shaping local and state policies.

“Teachers play a vital role in shaping the world leaders of tomorrow, and veteran teachers like Eugene aren’t just encouraging strong leaders, they’re nurturing civically minded, passionate Americans who will fight for justice and a strong nation,” said VFW National Commander Duane Sarmiento. “The VFW is honored to recognize these teachers, and those like them across our nation who help promote the importance of patriotism and civic responsibility.”

Established in 1999, the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award was co-sponsored by past VFW National Commander John Smart and retired VFW Quartermaster General Larry Maher to recognize three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students.

Each of the three national recipients will be presented with a $1,000 award for professional development and $1,000 for their school during the 125th VFW National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, July 27-Aug. 1, 2024.