Veterans of Foreign WarsDode Morris Post 1760
Mesa, AZ

Voice of Democracy

2017-18 Voice of Democracy Theme:

American History: Our Hope for the Future

Student Entry Deadline: October 31, 2017
Patriotic Essay Writing Contest Grand Prize: $30,000 Award

Post 1760 is an active sponsor for the Voice of Democracy annual competition. It is an annual nationwide scholarship program sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). It is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades 9-12.

Established in 1947, our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 40,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of $2.1 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.

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

What is the VOICE OF DEMOCRACY program?

Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW’s) premier scholarship program. Each year, nearly 40,000 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, American History: Our Hope for the Future.

Why should I enter?

Prizes and scholarships can be awarded at the Post, District, state and national level. Department (State) winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., March 3-7, 2018, to tour the city, be honored by the VFW and its Auxiliary and receive their portion of $154,000 in national awards, the top scholarship being $30,000.

The Rules

Who can enter?
The Voice of Democracy is open to students in grades 9-12 by the Oct. 31 deadline, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States, its territories and possessions; or in an overseas U.S. military/civilian dependent school. 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 ineligible.

What do I need to enter?
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. When burning your CD, make sure that “Create Audio CD” option (or similar) is selected so the program can properly convert your sound file and burn it to CD. After it has finished, be sure to play back your audio CD on a system other than your computer, such as a standard radio or car CD player, to verify that the conversion/burning process was successful. You will submit the recording, typed essay and this 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 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. At any time during the contest, additional participant personal information could be requested by the VFW, including but not limited to a photograph, SSN or biographical information.

Where do I submit my entry?

All entries begin at the local VFW Post level, VFW Post 1760. The only exception is where schools/classes/youth groups have large numbers of students and wish to conduct their own competition, submitting one winner for each 15 students to the local VFW Post. Individual students may submit their entry directly to the Post. This VFW Post should be within your local area and within your U.S. state of residence. Entries sent to VFW National will be returned. One winner for every 15 entries from each Post advances to District 4 and one District winner advances to the Arizona state (Department) competition. The Arizona state winner is invited to Washington, D.C., where their audio essays compete in the finals competition.

Entries can be made at any VFW Post albeit try and find a local VFW first. Multiple entries at several VFW Posts are not allowed. One entry to one VFW Post only.

What is the deadline for my entry?

All entries competing at the Post level must be in the hands of VFW Post 1760 by midnight, Oct. 31, 2017. It is the responsibility of the student to meet this deadline by submitting their entry to the proper location as Post 1760 is a participating Post.

What are the 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 another.

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

For more details on the competition you can contact our office or refer to the VFW National website.


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has again approved this contest for its National Advisory List of Contests and Activities.

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