PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW’s) premier scholarship program. Each year, nearly 57,000 high school students compete for more than $2 million in scholarships and incentives. Students compete by writing and recording an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme is, Why Is The Veteran Important?

CRITERIA:  The Voice of Democracy is open to students in grades 9-12, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States, its territories and possessions. Although U.S. citizenship is not required, students must be lawful U.S. permanent residents or have applied for permanent residence (the application for which has not been denied) and intends to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law. Foreign exchange students, students age 20 or over, previous Voice of Democracy first place state winners, GED or Adult Education Students are not eligible for entry.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Record your original 3-5-minute (+ or -5 seconds max.) essay on an audio CD or a flash drive. One student per CD or flash drive.  You will submit the recording, typed essay and the completed entry form.  Provide these items to your school/group competition or local VFW Post for judging. In addition, you can submit your emailed entry form, essay, and audio file to the VFW Post upon approval.  You must be the sole author of your essay. The recording must be in your own voice and in English. Hearing/speech impaired students should email the Voice of Democracy National Office at youthscholarships@vfw.org for special instructions. No music, singing, poetry or sound effects are allowed. The body of the essay must not identify you in any way, (including, but not limited to your name, school, city, state, race, or national origin) although the recording & typed essay should be labeled with your name, to show ownership.  You may enter only one competition at one Post (if otherwise eligible) per year.

DEADLINES: The following deadlines shall be adhered to:

    October 31, 2022 – Student entries to the Post
    November 15, 2022 – Post winner submitted to the District
    December 15, 2022 – District winners submitted to the Department
    January 10, 2023 – Completion of Department judging
    January 15, 2023 – District participation reports due to Department Chairperson
    January 15, 2023 – Department winners submitted to National
    January 31, 2023 – Department reports due to National

ALL-AMERICAN REQUIREMENTS:  Post must submit one candidate to District for judging and make a report via the All-American Dashboard.

ALL-STATE REQUIREMENTS:  Post must submit one candidate to District for judging, make a report via the Department reporting system, and the District Chairperson must annotate the Post’s participation on the District participation report.

District must submit one candidate to Department for judging.

AWARDS:  Monetary awards at the Post and District level are subject to the approval of the Post or District membership.  As for Department, the following is the monetary award:  

    The first-place winner at the state competition will receive a check for $2,000.00.
    Each of the four other finalists will receive a check for $1,000.00.
    The remaining District winners will each receive a check for $500.00.

Each first place Department (state) winner is brought to Washington, D.C. in February to enjoy our nation’s capital and compete for $171,000 in national college scholarships— first place receiving $35,000. Each state winner will receive at least $1,000 at the national level.