Voice of Democracy


Each year, nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.

The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (VOD) in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles.

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first-place winner from each (State) VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

2014 VOD Winner                                 

Madison Haley, a senior at Mount Pulaski High School, was named the 2013-2014 Voice of Democracy 1st-place winner.

Her speech on the 2013-2014 theme, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future,” won her a $30,000 college scholarship which she plans to apply toward her college career. Madison was sponsored by VFW Post 777 and Ladies Auxiliary in Mount Pulaski, Ill.

Read Madison’s speech
Listen to all 2014 national winners
Watch Madison deliver her speech 
See a list of all 2014 winners

YOU TOO CAN WIN $30,000!

The Voice of Democracy Program is open to students in grades 9-12 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories.

The deadline for submissions for the 2014-2015 program is November 1, 2014.  Download the application.

If you experience problems with printing the application, please try to print the document from Internet Explorer. If you continue to experience problems, contact the VFW National Headquarters atkharmer@vfw.org for assistance.

The theme is: Why Veterans are Important to our Nation’s History and Future

Students should record their reading of the draft to a CD. The recording can be no shorter than three minutes and no longer than five minutes (plus or minus five seconds).

Entries begin at the Post level. Once the student creates their essay and completes burning the audio version to a CD, they can submit their typed version, CD and the Voice of Democracy entry form to their local participating VFW Post by the November 1 deadline.

Originality is worth 30 points: Treatment of the theme should show imagination and human interest.

Content is worth 35 points: Clearly express your ideas in an organized manner. Fully develop your theme and use transitions to move smoothly from one idea to the other.

Delivery is worth 35 points: Speak in a clear and credible manner.

Read the previous winning essay from 2013.