Voice of Democracy

Each year, nearly 40,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of $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.

2016 VOD First Place Winner                                 

Grayson Campbell, a senior at Covenant Christian School, was named the 2015-16 Voice of Democracy 1st-place winner.  

Grayson's speech on the 2015-16 theme, "My Vision for America," won him a $30,000 college scholarship which he plans to apply toward his college career. Grayson was sponsored by VFW Post 10555 and its Auxiliary in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Read Grayson's speech.
Watch Grayson deliver his speech.
Listen to all 2016 national winners.
See a list of all 2016 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.


Click here to access the Voice of Democracy 2016-17 entry form and brochure.  

To view the complete list of national scholarship awards available, click here. 

If you experience problems with downloading or printing the application, please try to access the entry form using Internet Explorer. If you continue to experience problems, please contact the VFW National Headquarters at kharmer@vfw.org for assistance.

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 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 2015. 


FIND A POST to contact VFW members near you or visit a VFW STATE DEPARTMENT website.

Attention Teachers!

NASSP Logo 2015The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed this program on the NASSP National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2015-16VFW thanks all of America's teachers and youth leaders for the time, effort and commitment they invest in our young people each year. We have a number of ways in which to assist you in helping to ensure your students get a head start on their future.

Be the First to Know