Patriot's Pen Entry Form 

Patriot's Pen Brochure

National Manual for VOD and Patriot's Pen

District Participation Report

Patriot's Pen Scoresheet


PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Conducted nationwide, this VFW-sponsored youth essay competition gives 6th-, 7th- and 8th grade students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme.  This year’s theme is, "My Pledge To Our Veterans"

CRITERIA:  The Patriot’s Pen is open to students in grades 6-8, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States, its territories and possessions. Although U.S. citizenship is not required, students must be lawful U.S. permanent residents or have applied for permanent residence (the application for which has not been denied) and intends to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law. Foreign exchange students and former winners that placed in the National contest are excluded from the contest.

HOW TO SUBMIT:  Essay length: 300 – 400 typewritten words (+ or – 5 words max).  You must write your own essay.  All essays should be typed in English with no color or graphics and cannot be less than 300 words or greater than 400 words in length. (Essays under or over these word amounts will be eliminated.) Every word is counted regardless of length. The essay title (theme) or added footnotes do not contribute to the word count.

In no way may contestants identify themselves within their essay (including, but not limited to, your name, school, city, state, race or national origin.) Do not put your name on your essay. The entry form is your essay’s cover sheet. Secure the Official Student Entry Form with a staple or other fastener on top of your essay. Contestants are allowed to enter only once each year if otherwise eligible (one Post competition). Contestants found in violation of this rule will face elimination from the competition and will be required to return any and all prize money awarded or received. 

The essay must be a contestant’s original work and a product of the contestant’s own thinking. The approach to the Patriot’s Pen theme should be positive and clearly focused. Poetry is not acceptable. Quotations may be used sparingly if plainly identified wherever used. A contestant’s teacher, counselor or parent may check the essay for punctuation, grammar and/or spelling, but the content must remain the contestant’s. Contestants will be judged on the basis of their essay alone and are not required to present the essay orally.

DEADLINES: The following deadlines shall be adhered to:

  • October 31, 2023 – Student entries to the Post 
  • November 15, 2023 – Post winner submitted to the District 
  • December 15, 2023 – District winners submitted to the Department
  •  January 10, 2024 – Completion of Department judging
  •  January 15, 2024 – District participation reports due to Department Chairperson
  •  January 15, 2024 – Department winners submitted to National
  •  January 31, 2024 – Department reports due to National

ALL-AMERICAN REQUIREMENTS:  Post must submit one candidate to District for judging and make a report via the All-American Dashboard.

ALL-STATE REQUIREMENTS:  Post must submit one candidate to District for judging, make a report via the Department reporting system, and the District Chairperson must annotate the Post’s participation on the District participation report.

District must submit one candidate to Department for judging.

AWARDS:  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