2023-2024 Voice of Democracy Program

"What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?”


All information pertaining to the theme, judging, eligibility, awards, and other aspects of this program are contained in the Veterans of Foreign Wars program booklet for the Annual Voice of Democracy Scholarship Program.  District Commanders are responsible to ensure that their District Chairman are conducting their programs within these rules and deadlines.  District Commanders are solely responsible for the conduct of the programs within their Districts.  Make sure that copies of this program are distributed to all the Posts within your District in sufficient time to ensure that there is a successful competition.


The Voice of Democracy program is a joint program with the VFW Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Michigan. The Auxiliary does not need the permission of a Post to participate in the program.  Post and District Chairman are expected to include their VFW Auxiliary Counterparts in all activities concerning the conduct of the local and District programs.  Coordination of the District program is the responsibility of the District Commanders and District Chairman.  Post Chairman must refer to their District program for the program requirements and deadlines.


Judging the Contest

The suggested number of judges is five to nine, with a minimum of three.  Judges should be from outside your Posts and Auxiliaries and should represent your community.  Judges must not in any way be connected to the students in the competition.  Set the date for your judging and invite the judges at least 60 days in advance.  Remind them a week before the competition with a letter or email, and two days before with a phone call.



Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Grade students in public, private, parochial, and home schools in the State of Michigan. Former first place winners at the State and National level of competition or any Foreign Exchange students are not eligible.  Students do not have to be relatives of a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars or its VFW Auxiliary to participate.



Recorded Essays must not be less than three minutes and not longer than five minutes.  A five second variation is acceptable to compensate for the possible deviation in equipment.  Essays must be recorded on full size standard flash drive only.  Essays must be recorded without music or background voices. Students must not use their names, the name or location of the sponsoring VFW Post, or the name or location of their school.  Recordings must not include any introduction to the essay.  The only voice on the recording must be that of the students. Special consideration may be given for students that are speech challenged upon written request through the District to the Department Director.   Scripts should be recorded using the best possible equipment available. Post and District Chairman are responsible for the content and quality of the entry.  Every effort should be made to submit the best quality entry possible. Please note:  Cassette tapes and CDs are no longer accepted by the Department or National.  Make certain your recording has absolutely no background noise whatsoever. 



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.  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.  Posts are encouraged to solicit participants from as many sources as possible.  The Post will hold their own judging and may submit to the District the number of students permitted by the following:

·       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, etc.

Note:  No Limit

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 first-place winning entry to the District.  Each student entry submitted by a Post to the District must be an equal first place winner. This means that each Post student entry must receive the same award.  For example, a Post has fifty-five student entries and is eligible to send four entries to the District for judging.  Those four entries must each receive an equal first place award from the Post.  If the Post lists them as first, second, third and fourth place, then they can only send in one entry as the first-place winner.  Note:  First place Post winner’s entry packets must include a completed Student Biographical Questionnaire and School Release Form when sent to the District.  Post packets will not be accepted unless complete.


School/Youth Group Competition Alternatives

We offer teachers/youth leaders the option to use the Voice of Democracy as writing exercise.  The teacher/leader may submit all the entries to the Post for judging or conduct a judging within the group or class and advance a winner for every fifteen participants as shown above.  Note:  The Post Chairman should make this decision working closely with the teacher or group leader.



Each District shall be responsible for the conduct of the program and judging of entries within their District.  District Chairman 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 if they do not interfere with the sponsorship of other Posts.  District Chairman are expected to assist Posts in the coordination of sponsorship of all schools in the 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 the Department for Judging:

·       One Student Essay taped in accordance with the above rules.

·       One completed student entry from the National Program Booklet.

·       A quality head and shoulder photograph, wallet size only.

·       One typed copy of the student’s essay.

·       One signed Student Release Form (Link below).

·       One Student Biographical Questionnaire must accompany your District Winner.

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



To obtain program credit the Post Chairman portion of the Student Entry Form must be completed and submitted to the 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.  Proper credit cannot be given without this information.  District Chairman are required to submit a consolidated report of Post participation within their District using the District Report form and the District Summary Form.  The reports MUST accompany the District Entry to Department.  It is the responsibility of the Post, District, and Department Adjutants to input their Voice of Democracy entries into the All-American Dashboard.  This is to include all monetary values spent on this event.  Failure to do so can cause the Post, District, and/or Department to show a NOT MET in this category.



The deadline for Post sponsored entries is October 31, 2023.  Post judging may not be held before November 1, 2023, and must be completed in time to ensure that winning entries are delivered to the District Chairman by November 16, 2023.   District judging may not be held before November 16, 2023, and must be completed in time to ensure that the winning entry with all required materials are in the hands of the Department Director by December 16, 2023.   The Department deadline for District entries is December 16, 2023.  This deadline is absolute, and it includes all paperwork.  Department judging will be closed and will be the responsibility of the Department Committee. Please 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 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.



All Post and District awards are the responsibility of those organizations.  Department awards will be presented at the 2024 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 with one banquet ticket.  Banquet tickets for family members and other guests are the sole responsibility of the District in cooperation with the sponsoring Post.


Michael Martin, Director

199 East 34th St, Apt 2

Holland MI 49423




Denise Arnold, Auxiliary Chair

9525 E River Rd

Mt Pleasant MI 48858