Veterans Story Contest

Revamped Veterans Writing Prize: Newly-Created Veterans Story Contest Concluded at 2019 Festival of Books

South Dakota State University Veterans Affairs and the South Dakota Humanities Council in 2019 created a new veterans storytelling contest that culminated with an awards ceremony at the South Dakota Festival of Books Oct. 4-6 in Deadwood. While similar to the Veterans Writing Prize program conducted by SDHC in 2016 and 2017, the Veterans Story Contest featured a new partnership with SDSU and a dual submission format allowing participants to submit 3-5 minute oral stories recorded on video or written stories of up to 1,500 words (past contests accepted written submissions only).

Submissions were accepted from May 10-August 15 for the Veterans Story Contest, which was open to veterans or current service members of any branch of the United States military currently living in South Dakota.

A USA flag rests against the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

A U.S. flag rests against the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. SDHC has partnered with SDSU for a veterans storytelling contest open to veterans or current service members of any branch of the United States military currently living in South Dakota. 

Winners, Past and Present

In 2016 and 2017, the South Dakota Humanities Council hosted the Veterans Writing Prize for military veterans and current service members who resided in South Dakota. Entries were accepted in multiple genres—poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction—with the winning authors presenting their work at the annual South Dakota Festival of Books. The Veterans Writing Prize attracted more than 50 submissions during its two years, with works representing many South Dakota communities and several branches of the U.S. military.

James R. Teller won the 2016 Veterans Writing Prize for his essay "The Reunion." The prize that year was presented by Ron Capps, creator of the Veterans Writing Project. Robert Speirs won the 2017 Veterans Writing Prize for his essay "A Prayer for Brian Bradley." The award that year was presented by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler. Both essays will continue to be hosted on the South Dakota Humanities Council blog archives.

At the 2019 contest, U.S. Army veteran Stephan Randall of Sioux Falls won first place for his essay Mountain Climber, while U.S. Marine Corps veteran Alex Sebbey's "I'm Scared Too" won the video portion. Sebbey was a resident of Sioux Falls at the time of the contest and has since moved to Triangle, Va. Both received $500 for their first-place efforts.

U.S. Air Force veteran Michael Welsh of Yankton received second place for his essay Last Sortie of the Day, while third place essay went to U.S. Navy veteran Douglas Perret Starr of Sioux Falls for Freeing Prisoners of War. Second place winner in the video category was Shai Mason, currently serving in the U.S. Air Force and based at Ellsworth, for Veterans' Story Video.

SDHC is excited about the new partnership with SDSU for the Veterans Story Contest and the opportunity to further encourage South Dakota Veterans and current service members to tell their stories. 

SDHC will post information about future contests when such details are available. 

Event Calendar

26
Feb
6:45 pm | Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science
29
Feb
1:00 pm | High Plains Western Heritage Center's Bruce Miller Theater
2
Mar
6:00 pm | Royal Fork
3
Mar
3
Mar
7:30 pm | BrickHouse Community Arts Center