2021-2022 Voice of Democracy Program

"America:  Where do we go from here?"

The VFW is dedicated to promoting patriotism and investing in our future generation. If you are a democracy-loving high school student interested in a $30,000 college scholarship or a patriotic middle school student interested in winning $5,000, these scholarships may be for you.

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, more than 51,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $1.9 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. Want to apply? Read the rules and eligibility requirements, and download the 2021-22 entry form application, as all student entries must be submitted to a sponsoring local VFW Post by midnight, Oct. 31.

 - Eligibility- 

Ninth (9th), Tenth (10th), Eleventh (11th) and Twelfth (12th) grade students in public, private, parochial and home schools in the State of Michigan.  Former first place winners at the State and National level competition or any foreign exchange student are not eligible.  Students do not have to be a relative of a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars or its VFW Auxiliary to participate.  

- Recording- 

Recorded scripts must not be less than THREE (3) minutes nor longer than FIVE (5) minutes.  A five (5) second variation is acceptable to compensate for the possible deviation in equipment.  Scripts MUST be recorded on full size standard FLASH DRIVE OR CD ONLY.  Record all on CD’s or a Flash Drive on a single track. Scripts must be recorded without music or background voice.  Students must not use their names, the name or location of the sponsoring VFW unit, or the name or location of their school.  Recordings must not include any introduction of the script. The only voice on the recording must be that of the student’s.  Special consideration may be given for students that are speech challenged upon written request through District to Department.  Scripts should be recorded using the best possible equipment available. Post and District Chairmen are responsible for the content and quality of the entry.  Every effort should be made to submit the best quality entry possible.

Cassette Tapes are no longer accepted by State or National.  

Make certain your CD or Flash Drive plays on another piece of playback equipment other than on the one it was recorded. Make certain your recording has absolutely no background noise whatsoever. 

- Posts -  

To receive credit for participation in the Voice of Democracy Scholarship Competition, a Post MUST SPONSOR THE PROGRAM IN THEIR COMMUNITY.  While it is important to offer the Voice of Democracy Scholarship Program in our schools, it is not solely a program for the schools.  You may offer the competition to any ninth, tenth, eleventh or twelfth grade student.  Foreign exchange students are not eligible.  All entries MUST be submitted directly to the Post.  They may be sponsored through local schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Church youth groups, Junior ROTC programs, the home schooled, etc.  The Post is encouraged to solicit participants from as many sources as possible.  

The Post will hold their own judging and may submit to District the number of students permitted by the following breakdown.  

  • 1-15 student participants =   1 top Post entry is allowed to advance to District
  • 16-30 student participants = 2 top Post entries are allowed to advance to District
  • 31-45 student participants = 3 top Post entries are allowed to advance to District
  • 46-60 student participants = 4 top Post entries are allowed to advance to District
  • 61-75 student participants = 5 top Post entries are allowed to advance to District
  • Etc. 

Posts may advance as many winners as they select based on the total number of students participating.  Post judging is the responsibility of the Post Chairman and must be conducted in accordance with the National Judging Criteria.  

The Post may forward each 1st place winning entry to District.  Each student entry submitted by a Post to District must be an equal 1st place winner.  This means each Post student entry sent to District must receive the same award.  For example, a Post has 55 student entries and is eligible to send four entries to District for judging.  These four entries must each receive an equal first place award from the Post. If the Post lists them as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place, then they can only send in one entry as the 1st place winner.   


Single Winner School Option.  A teacher working in cooperation with a Post can elect to hold a competition in the school, judge the participants and advance one student entry selected as the school first place winner.  The one declared school winner will advance to District as the "School Winner” from each participating school sponsored by the Post.

- Districts -  

Each District shall be responsible for the conduct of the program and judging of entries within their District.  District Chairmen are expected to promote the expansion of the program by encouraging the participation of additional Posts.  It is not always possible to restrict sponsorship strictly along VFW District Boundaries.  Posts may solicit student participation from any geographical area within the State of Michigan as long as they do not interfere with the sponsorship of other Posts. District Chairmen are expected to assist Posts in the coordination of sponsorship of all schools in their District. It is unacceptable that a school is not contacted. 

Each District may submit only one entry to the Department for judging.  This entry must be certified on the proper National Entry Form by the District Chairman to be the District First Place Winner of the District Program judging.  

The following items MUST accompany the District entry to Department for judging. 

  • One student script taped in accordance with the above rules.
  • One completed student entry form from the National Program booklet
  • One good quality picture, preferably wallet sized.
  • One typed copy of the student’s speech.
  • One signed student release form provided by Department.
  • One Student Biographical Questionnaire must accompany your District Winner. 

It is the responsibility of the District Chairman to ensure that all materials are included.  Any entry that does not include all materials may not be judged.

- Reporting -

To obtain program credit the Post Chairman portion of the Student Entry Form must be completed and submitted to District with each Post entry.  The form must include the number of students participating from the school and the approximate cost for the program and awards for that school.  Proper credit cannot be given without this information. District Chairmen are required to prepare and submit a consolidated report of Post participation within their District using the District Report Form and the District Summary Form.  These reports must accompany the District entry to Department.  


- Deadlines - 

Deadline for Post sponsored program entries is October 31, 2021.  

Post judging may not be held before November 1, 2021 and must be completed in time to ensure that winning entries are delivered to the District Chairmen by November 15, 2021


District judging may not be held before November 16, 2021 and must be completed in time to ensure that the winning entry with all required materials are in the hands of the Department Chairman by December 7, 2021.  District judging is the responsibility of the District Chairman to be conducted in accordance with the National Judging Criteria.   


The Department deadline for District entries is December 7, 2021.  This deadline is ABSOLUTE and it includes all paper work.  Department judging will be closed and will be the responsibility of the Department Committee. Be advised that the state judging will be attended only by the VFW Department Committee Members, VFW State Auxiliary Committee Members and the State Judges. The Committee has the sole authority to disqualify from the Department judging any entry which is in violation of the rules as stated in the Department Program and the National Program booklet.  

- Awards -

All Post and District awards are the responsibility of those organizations.

Department awards will be presented at the 2022 Department of Michigan Mid-Winter Conference.  All District winners are expected to be present.  Each District must assume the cost of their winner’s transportation, meals and lodging.  Department will provide each District winner one banquet ticket.  Banquet tickets for family members and other guests are the sole responsibility of the District in cooperation with the sponsoring Post.  

- Forms -