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 $35,000 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 regard to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 25,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.
The national first place winner receives a $35,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. A complete list of other national scholarships ranges from $1,000-$21,000, and the first-place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins at least a scholarship of $1,000. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2022-2023 Voice of Democracy entry form here.
About the 2021-2022 winner ...
Daniela Mare, a junior at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, was named the 2021-2022 Voice of Democracy first place winner. Daniela's speech on the theme, "America: Where Do We Go from Here?" won her a $30,000 college scholarship. Daniela was sponsored by VFW Post 9486 and its Auxiliary in Centereach, New York. Watch as Daniela delivered her speech during the VFW's virtual Parade of Winners award ceremony.
Want to catch up on everything that happened this year? You can watch the full virtual Parade of Winners ceremony, which was streamed live on Facebook, or see this year's complete list of winners.
Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest (2022-2023)
Each year, nearly 68,800 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards. Each first-place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first place winner wins $5,000!
The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2022-2023 entry form here.
About the 2021-2022 winner ...
Syed Ali, an eighth-grade student from Lafayette, Louisiana, was named the 2021-2022 Patriot's Pen first place winner. His essay on the theme, "How Can I Be a Good American?" won him a $5,000 award. Syed was sponsored by New Iberia, Louisiana, VFW Post 1982.
Watch as Syed delivered his winning essay, during the VFW's virtual Parade of Winners streamed live on Facebook or see the complete list of 2022 national winners.