About The Program
Patriot's Pen - A Youth Essay Writing Contest
Conducted nationwide, this Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsored youth essay competition gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. We invite you to join the more than 73,000 students who participated last year in this contest. Students in 6th - 8th grades enter the 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!
2023-2024 Patriot's Pen Theme
"How Are You Inspired by America?"
The Patriot’s Pen Program is judged on the following criteria:
Knowledge of the Theme (30 points)
You must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in your work. Demonstrate you have researched the issue extensively.
Theme Development (35 points)
Answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Relate the theme to your own experiences.
Clarity of Ideas (35 points)
Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.
Patriot's Pen Forms
2022-2023 National Winner
Leighton Peters, a 7th grade student from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, was named the 2022-2023 Patriot’s Pen first place winner. Her essay on the theme, “My Pledge to Our Veterans” won her a $5,000 award. Leighton was sponsored by VFW Post 2204 and its Auxiliary in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
How Does The Contest Work
All entries begin at the VFW Post level. The only exception is where schools/classes/youth groups have large numbers of students and wish to conduct their own competition, submitting one winner for each 15 students to the VFW Post. Individual students may submit their entry directly to the Post.
The contest consists of four levels. The first level (entry) is sponsored by VFW Posts. Post winners advance, one for every 15 entries, to the VFW District (regional) level where the one first-place winner is advanced to the VFW Department (state) level. The first-place winner at the Department level is then advanced into the VFW national competition.