• Posted on: August 7th, 2023

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, 

What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?

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 local VFW Post for judging. For students in the area of Dana Point, California, your local Post is:

Contact the Post for entry forms and for additional information as needed.

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

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:  All entries competing at the Post level must be in the hands of the VFW Post by midnight Oct 31, 2023

AWARDS:  Monetary awards will be made at the Post and District level for entries selected for recognition.  At the Department (California) level:

  • The first-place winner 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 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.