Nutley VFW, other posts, taking part in major essay contests for middle and high schoolers

The Nutley VFW — along with posts throughout the country — sponsor two essay contests that count net the winner significant scholarships, Maria Hamlin, of the Nutley Post, tells The Observer.

The two contests run concurrently, though one is audio-based and the other is written. The top prize for the audio contest is $30,000 with other prizes and the top prize for the solely written contest is $5,000.  All students in any accredited high school or home-schooling program — so long as they’ve never won a VFW contest before — are eligible to enter the audio contest. Students in grades six, seven and eight may enter the written-only contest.

All entrants must be living legally in the United States, though American citizenship is not mandatory.

A little about the two contests.

Audio topic: Why is the veteran important?

Record your original 3-5 minute (+ or – 5 second max.) audio essay on a flash drive, or other electronic device. You will submit the recording, typed essay and a completed entry form. Provide these items to your school/group competition or VFW Post for judging.

In addition you may submit an emailed entry form, essay and audio file to the VFW Post upon approval. You must be the sole author of your essay. The recording must be in your own voice and in English. Hearing/speech impaired students should email the Voice of Democracy National Office at for special instructions.

No music, singing, poetry or sound effects are allowed. The body of the essay must not identify you in any way, (including, but not limited to your name, school, city, state, race or national origin) although the recording and  typed essay should be labeled with your name, to show ownership.


Originality is worth 30 points: Treatment of the theme should show imagination and human interest. Content is worth 35 points: Clearly express your ideas in an organized manner. Fully develop your theme and use transitions to move smoothly from one idea to another. Delivery is worth 35 points: Speak in a clear and credible manner.

Written-only topic: My pledge to veterans.

This one is a bit different.

Entrants must ask a teacher or youth group/club adult leader to supervise the Patriot’s Pen writing contest. Then, contact a participating VFW Post and indicate your interest in participating.  Establish a contact person who is a member of that VFW Post or its VFW Auxiliary. Be sure your essay is submitted to the VFW Post before the contest deadline, Oct. 31, 2022. You may submit your essay and entry form by email upon the Post’s approval. Entries sent to the VFW National Headquarters directly will be returned.


Knowledge of the theme is worth 30 points: You must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in your

work. Demonstrate you have researched the issue extensively. Theme development is worth 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 is worth 35 points: Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.

Entry forms are available by clicking here for middle school students and here for high school students.

For more information, contact Maria Hamlin at

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.