Savannah Wittman, a senior at Bret Harte High School, was named the 2016-17 Voice of Democracy first-place winner. Savannah’s speech on the theme, “My Vision for America,” won her a $30,000 college scholarship which she plans to apply toward her career in veterinary medicine. Savannah was sponsored by VFW Post 12118 and its Auxiliary in Copperopolis, Calif.
Each year, nearly 38,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 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.
A California student from Copperopolis was the first place winner of the 2016-17 contest.
YOU TOO CAN WIN $30,000!
WHO CAN ENTER 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.
HOW TO ENTER
Contact VFW Post 9934 for additional assistance and a copy of the entry form.
Telephone: (949) 248-1419
The 2017-18 theme is: American History: Our Hope for the Future
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 VFW Post 9934 by the October 31 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
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR MY ENTRY?
All entries competing at the Post level must be in the hands of that VFW Post by midnight, October 31, 2017. It is the responsibility of the student to meet this deadline by submitting their entry to the proper location.
VOD Prepares You for Life
For Stephanie D’Abruzzo Shemin, one-time Department of Pennsylvania winner, VOD was a milestone in her life.
“What VOD did was prepare me for college and the real world. I saw how I could find my place in this world outside the plastic bubble that is suburban public high school,” Shemin said. “Little did I know, while I was writing about America’s freedom and independence that it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life — one of personal freedom and independence.”
Shemin graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in speech. She is currently a Muppet performer with the Jim Henson Company, working for such shows as Sesame Street.
Meet People and Build Confidence
VOD enables you to meet your peers from all walks of life.
Furthermore, it can have a tremendous impact on your future.
“The whole Voice of Democracy program was an experience that still is with me,” said Gary Belkin, a national VOD winner. “I’m now 36, a psychiatrist and ethicist at Harvard and Brown Medical schools where I teach, and also am finishing a doctorate in history at Harvard.”
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has again approved this contest for its National Advisory List of Contests and Activities.
Veterans of Foreign Wars and Its Auxiliary
Department of Washington
State Youth Essay Program Rules and Regulations
Participants must compose their own essay.
The essay must be clearly handwritten, typed or computer prepared.
Judging will be under the guidance set by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Judging will include 30 points for addressing the theme, 30 points for clarity of Ideas, 40 points for Theme Development.
Since this program is completely voluntary, a student does not have to go through his/her school to participate. Any student from any school in the State of Washington may enter the program by contacting a local Post or Auxiliary for rules and Official Entry form. Home Schooled students are also eligible.
A copy of the Official Entry form must accompany the essay. All sections of the official entry form MUST be completed at the Post/Auxiliary level. Entry forms MUST be signed by a parent. Print your Entry form by clicking on this link.
All essays become the property of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Washington. If copies are desired, you must make your own. Chairman will not return essays.
Contest begins at the start of the school year.
Length: Not to exceed 250 words.
Student’s Name, City, or School MUST NOT be on the essay, only on the entry form.
Essay must stay within the prescribed subject matter and there can be NO added color or artwork.
Essay written in poem form will not be accepted.
The Post or Auxiliary sponsoring the school MUST do the judging at the local level.
Essays due to local Post/Auxiliary by: October 31st, 2017
Theme: "What does a Veteran mean to me!"
Any Essay not received by the deadline will not be accepted.