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Son of McChord's former command chief closing in on $30,000 VFW award

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Jacob Hatzinger, a senior at Graham-Kapowsin High School, is heading to the nation's capital with big dreams and is looking to return home with a big check.

In early March, Hatzinger will be one of 53 students taking an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to take part in the 2012 VFW Legislative Conference.

His entry in the Voice of Democracy audio essay contest - with the theme of, "Is There Pride in Serving in our Military?" - has propelled Jacob through the early competition and earned him a shot at the big prize.

The Voice of Democracy program, created in 1947, is open to all students in the U.S. in grades 9 to 12. More than 51,000 students enter each year.  The running begins at the local VFW post, and then moves to the district level, the state level and finally, the national level. The national winner receives a $30,000 scholarship, which is paid directly to the school he or she will attend. Additionally, there are other scholarships awarded at each level of competition for a total $2.2 million. 

Jacob's father, retired Command Chief Master Sgt. Cary Hatzinger, ended his military career recently but still works on McChord Field in a civilian capacity and belongs to the VFW Post 969 in Tacoma.

"I first heard about this a couple of years ago, when my daughter was researching scholarships," Hatzinger said. "So when it was Jacob's turn, I advised him to do the same and we're thrilled he's still moving forward."

Aside from his academic pursuits, Jacob plays the violin in the Tacoma Youth Symphony, serves as concertmaster for his school and also helps coach its speech and debate team.

"I'm extremely excited and I am feeling pretty good about it," Jacob said. "If I could beat the people that I competed against in the state, I think I have good shot at the national level."

In addition to the monies he has received through the VFW and their Ladies Auxiliary, Jacob is also in the running for scholarships from the McChord Officers Spouses' Club and the National Honor Society. Regardless of where he finishes in D.C., Jacob is planning to attend the University of Washington in the fall to study biochemical engineering.

The theme for next year's competition is "Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?" and the deadline for entries is Nov. 1, 2012. For more information, visit or contact your local VFW post.

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