Voice of Democracy - 2023-2024

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, nearly 25,000 ninth through 12th grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $1.3 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 range 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. 31Download and complete the 2023-2024 Voice of Democracy entry form here.


The 2023-24 theme is: 
"What Are the Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy?"


Patriot's Pen - 2023-2024

Each year, nearly 68,800 students in sixth through eighth grades 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. 31Download and complete the 2023-2024 entry form here


The 2023-24 theme is: 
"How Are You Inspired by America?"


School Directory Link

Go to the school directory and find schools in your area.  You can contact the guidance counselors and teachers in your area, via email, telephone or setup an appointment to talk to the class.

Most teacher's will add the essay into their curriculum if you get it to them soon enough.

Set up Back to School functions in the community.

Build a relationship with your schools.  It's never to late.


Find a home school link in your area.

Homeschool locator link



"Empowering Our Youth for the Future"

The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is a state cabinet agency committed to serving South Carolina's youth offenders. DJJ is responsible for providing custodial care and rehabilitation for the state’s children who are incarcerated, on probation or parole, or in community placement for a criminal or status offense. DJJ also provides a variety of prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youth.

Our mission is to impact and transform young lives, strengthen families, and support safer communities through targeted prevention and rehabilitation.

Our vision is that youth discover their strengths and abilities and become productive and successful citizens contributing to a safer South Carolina.

Use this link to contact the Department of Juvenile Justice and explain the VFW the Voice of Democracy program.