Voice of Democracy
Each year, nearly 38,000 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 a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
YOU TOO CAN WIN $30,000!
WHO CAN ENTER 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.
HOW TO ENTER Contact VFW Post 9934 for additional assistance and a copy of the entry form.
Telephone: (949) 248-1419
The 2016-17 theme is: My Responsibility to America
Students should record their reading of the draft to an audio CD or flash drive. 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 an audio CD/flash drive, they can submit their typed version, CD/flash drive and the Voice of Democracy entry form to VFW Post 9934 by the November 1 deadline.
JUDGING CRITERIA 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
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR MY ENTRY?
All entries competing at the Post level must be in the hands of that VFW Post by midnight, November 1. It is the responsibility of the student to meet this deadline by submitting their entry to the proper location.
VOD Prepares You for Life
For Stephanie D’Abruzzo Shemin, one-time Department of Pennsylvania winner, VOD was a milestone in her life.
“What VOD did was prepare me for college and the real world. I saw how I could find my place in this world outside the plastic bubble that is suburban public high school,” Shemin said. “Little did I know, while I was writing about America’s freedom and independence that it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life — one of personal freedom and independence.”
Shemin graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in speech. She is currently a Muppet performer with the Jim Henson Company, working for such shows as Sesame Street.
Meet People and Build Confidence
VOD enables you to meet your peers from all walks of life.
Furthermore, it can have a tremendous impact on your future.
“The whole Voice of Democracy program was an experience that still is with me,” said Gary Belkin, a national VOD winner. “I’m now 36, a psychiatrist and ethicist at Harvard and Brown Medical schools where I teach, and also am finishing a doctorate in history at Harvard.”
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has again approved this contest for its National Advisory List of Contests and Activities.