Each year more than 132,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $54,500, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. 

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.

Shane Stafford, a 6th-grade student, was named the 2015-16 Patriot's Pen 1st-place winner.                    

His essay on the 2015-16 theme, "What Freedom Means to Me," won him a $5,000 award. Shane was sponsored by VFW Post 10468 and its Auxiliary in Searchlight, Nev.

Read Shane's winning essay
Watch Shane deliver his winning essay.
See the complete list of 2016 national winners.  


The Patriot's Pen program is open to students in grades 6-8 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or home study program in the United States and its territories.


Click here to access the Patriot's Pen 2016-17 entry form and brochure.

To view a complete list of all national awards available, click here. 

If you experience problems with downloading or printing the application, please try to access the entry form using Internet Explorer. If you continue to experience problems, please contact the VFW National Headquarters at kharmer@vfw.org for assistance.. Go to the national VFW website to see more,
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Patriot's Pen

Veterans Of Foreign Wars Post 4407

Bruce J. Bell Memorial

Ladies & Men's Auxiliary