BROOKINGS — South Dakota State University Veterans Affairs and the South Dakota Humanities Council are sponsoring a storytelling contest for veterans that will culminate with an awards ceremony at the South Dakota Festival of Books Oct. 4-6 in Deadwood.

Submissions — in either written or video format — will be accepted through Aug. 15 for the Veterans Story Contest, which is open to veterans or current service members of any branch of the United States military currently living in South Dakota.

Submissions should consist of new, unpublished material addressing the military experience, such as recovery or lessons learned. Individuals may submit either a three- to five-minute video or up to 1,500 written words in any format — poetry, prose, fiction, creative nonfiction, etc. Entries will be judged on content, not the production quality of videos or the technical quality of written content.

“There are many benefits for veterans to share their story through creative writing or any other humanities driven experience that can encourage healing, release or support others,” said Connie Johnson, coordinator for Veterans Affairs at SDSU. Johnson is also the lone female Purple Heart recipient in North and South Dakota.

Three finalists in each category, written and video, will be invited to the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood for a reading/showing of their work by U.S. Army veteran and author Brian Turner, who will announce the winners and hold a workshop specifically for veterans. Turner is one of many award-winning veteran authors who have appeared at the Festival of Books, which in the past has featured National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler.

The South Dakota Humanities Council, a statewide humanities organization that hosts the annual Festival, will work with the finalists to support their attendance at the Festival Oct. 5 in Deadwood. Writers do not need to attend the festival to submit work. A representative can read the author’s work on the finalist’s behalf.

Each category winner receives a cash prize of $500, second, $300; and third, $200. In addition, every veteran who submits a story receives one free ticket to Turner’s writing workshop Oct. 4 in Deadwood.

Stories should be submitted to: Connie Johnson; Coordinator for Veterans Affairs; South Dakota State University; Brown Hall Room 134; Brookings, SD 57007.

For more information or questions, contact Johnson at or (605) 688-4700.

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