VFW believes strongly in good citizenship and fostering patriotism. There is no better place to start the process than with our youth. We encourage young minds to examine Veterans of the present as well as through history, and how their own experiences invoke original thought through our Patriot’s Pen youth essay writing contest.

The National Patriot’s Pen Program is a youth essay contest conducted nationwide by VFW Posts and Auxiliaries. This contest gives students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, the opportunity to express their own opinions and improve their writing skills for a given theme, while they compete for worthwhile awards and prizes. With the exception of exchange students, all students attending public, private, or parochial schools are eligible to participate in the Patriot’s Pen Program. Students will compete for $1,000 cash at the Department level. If selected by National, the winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to the National Convention for a chance at $5000 and recognition.

***  Post  and  District  Chairman  should  refer  to  the  National  VFW  Programs  Guide  "VFW Scholarship Programs.”
*** Materials are available from VFW Emblem and Supply.
*** Please do not hesitate to contact the Department Chairperson via Email if you have any questions.
2019-2020 THEME: "What makes America Great”

Student Entry Deadline to the Post:October 31, 2019 Post Deadline to submit to District:November 16, 2019
District Deadline for Winner Package to Department: Friday, December 6, 2019 District Summary & Participation Forms to Dept:Friday, January 3, 2020
***Black out sheets will be updated via information delivered to Department from the District Chairperson submission of the attached "Patriot’s Pen District Participation Report.”

The First-Place winner is invited to the Mid-Winter Conference to read his/her speech. Second and Third place shall be recognized locally.
First place$1,000.00 and a plaque Second Place $ 750.00 and a plaque Third Place        $  500.00 and a plaque

To submit a Patriot’s Pen entry, complete the following steps and forward this information to your District Patriots Pen Chairman.

1.Complete the Official Patriots Pen Competition Entry Form.
2.Entries shall be no less than 300 words and no greater than 400 words in length.  (Title and footnotes are not counted)
3.Essays should be computer printed or typewritten in English with no color or graphics.
4.Posts judge their entries for inclusion in the District contest and submit their winners and other report information to the District Chairperson.
5.District   chooses   winners,   and   completes   the   District   Patriot’s   Pen   package   to
Department, which includes Essay, application form, photo, summary, and report form.
6.District winning entries shall include a good quality head and shoulders photograph of the student. (School photographs best.) It will be needed for the Department winner.

District Chairpersons will deliver all entries to the Department Chairman  NO LATER THAN  December 6, 2019.

*** For Posts with no District Program, please note that the Department Chairman will accept only one entry, per District.

JUDGING: For consistency, all levels of judging are based on the same criteria, remembering that this is a subjective topic and there is no "right” answer to the explanation of What Makes America Great.

*** NOTE *** To ensure fairness and objectivity, the student shall not identify themselves within the essay. They shall not include their name, city, state, national origin, race, or specific religion.

Entries are judged on the following:

-Knowledge of the theme – 30 points. Essays must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in the work and demonstrate extensive research of the issue.
-Theme Development – 35 points. Essays should answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Does the student relate the theme to his or her own experiences?
-Clarity of ideas – 35 points.  Writer should have good structure and present a clear picture
of the writer’s ideas.
Essays should have a positive approach toward our organization. It is recommended students realize the nature of our organization; however, it should be evident that the essay expresses the young writer’s own viewpoints.

The Department Chairman will provide judges and the team will select a state winner and forward that entry and any required reports to National.


Step 1:
Each Post that submits a student entry meeting guidelines and dates will receive ALL-STATE credit, which is reported through the district contest process. The Posts shall provide to the District:
-Winning entry
-Report as attached here on Page 7.
-Number of participants
-Monies awarded

Step 2:
District collects all entries from Post within the district, then conducts judging of Post winners at the District level. District Chairpersons are required to submit the District winning entry form, picture, and essay to Department NLT Friday, December 6, 2019.

Step 3:
District Chairperson completes the Summary Form and a District Participation Form to the Department Chairman NLT January 3, 2020, which includes:
-District Summary form
-Post participation breakout form
This form is located on Page 7 of this document. Step 4:
The Department Chairman shall use the District inputs to provide Department Headquarters and National with a report of all Posts that participated, by District, which will then be used to give credit in the All-State and All-American Program blackout sheet.

All activities other than the student entry should be  reported on-line via the Department website under reporting procedure and Youth Activities at

Be sure to submit any additional Patriot’s Pen Activities to the Department Chairman to be
considered for the Department awards.