Each year more than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $50,000, 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., in March.

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.

Who can enter?  The competition is open to students in grades 6-8, who are enrolled in public, private or parochial school or home study program in the U.S., its territories or its possessions. Dependents of U.S. military or civilian personnel in overseas schools can participate too. (Foreign exchange students and former winners that placed in the National finals are excluded from the contest.)


What do students need to do to enter?  Students submit a 300 – 400 word original essay on the theme listed below.  The essay should be typewritten in English with no color or graphics and cannot be less than 300 words or greater than 400 words in length.  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 in their essay nor should their names be written on the front of the essay.  Essays must be written exclusively for this competition and must be the contestant’s original work and a product of the contestant’s own thinking.  The approach to the theme should be positive and clearly focused.  Poetry is not acceptable.  Quotations may be used sparingly if plainly identified wherever used.  Parents, teachers or counselors may check the essay for punctuation, grammar, and/or spelling, but the content must remain the contestant’s.


The 2017- 2018 theme

America's Gift to my Generation


What is the entry deadline?  All entries must be in the hands of VFW Post 3917 by close of business, October 31st 2017.



We are located at:

4715 Clearview Drive

Colorado Springs, CO 80911


Our mailing address is:

Cheyenne Mountain VFW Post 3917

P.O. Box 5355

Colorado Springs, CO 80931


Link to the VFW Colorado State Program website


Link to the VFW National HQ Program Website

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