State Department, under Eagle Scout Tillerson, to hand-sign Eagle letters

Rex Tillerson will be extremely busy traveling the world as secretary of state. But he’ll still take time to recognize his fellow Eagle Scouts.

The U.S. Department of State, under the leadership of Distinguished Eagle Scout Tillerson, announced it will continue the department’s long-standing tradition of sending congratulatory letters to Eagle Scouts.

It’s unknown whether previous secretaries of state hand-signed their letters. But the Tillerson State Department, in a blog post last week, emphasized that letters from Tillerson will be personally signed by the secretary himself.

Girl Scouts who achieve the Gold Award, which is that program’s highest honor, also can request letters.

“The State Department is honored to have the opportunity to recognize and honor Boy and Girl Scouts who are going the extra mile to demonstrate values that serve as important pillars of global citizenry,” the department wrote.

A long-standing tradition

In 2016, the State Department sent more than 4,000 letters to Eagle Scouts and Gold Award recipients on behalf of former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell also sent letters to these high-achievers.

The letters from Tillerson to new Eagle Scouts will have added significance because Tillerson himself is an Eagle Scout. He knows firsthand that Eagle Scouts go on to become high-ranking businessmen and world leaders.

To request a letter for a new Eagle Scout, use the address below. I recommend allowing as much time as possible.

Hon. Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
2201 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20520

By the way, if you receive a letter from Tillerson, please email me a copy. I’d love to see it.

Letter from former Secretary of State John Kerry


Letters from world leaders and celebrities

Politicians, astronauts, celebrities and other recognizable figures have been sending hand-signed letters to new Eagle Scouts for more than 100 years.

The very first congratulatory letter was sent in 1912 when the first Eagle Scout, Arthur R. Eldred, received a note from James E. West, the first Chief Scout Executive.

For general advice on requesting congratulatory letters, see this post.


  1. Bryan, this is off-topic, but the blog from a few days ago regarding the use of automobiles by Scouts under 18 has disappeared entirely — will there be a corrected article appearing shortly? I know that in my Council, the (erroneous?) information in the prior blog was disseminated to volunteers. Thanks.

  2. Glad Mr.Tillerson sees the value of personal attention and the respect for what a boy does to earn this rank. My third Eagle Scout son is about to complete his Board of Review, so we will be writing these to all the usual officials in the near future, including our President Trump. Its a very proud time to be an American again, our Eagle Scouts will remember it and take it forward. Thanks for the info.

  3. Bryan, I have been told when it comes to Federal Government Officials, email is best as it does not get bogged down in the capital’s post office due to all the “extra” security measure the mail goes through. I have had good success in requesting congratulations letters this way.

      • I sent emails for my so to the President (Obama) and VP (Biden) the end of 2014 and I rec’d nothing from either of them. I thought that was pretty sad.
        We did receive many letters from Past Presidents as well as many other Eagle Scouts. We even purchased a Flag that flew over the capital but nothing from the Former President or his VP 😕

        • Last year when the troop where I serve as Scoutmaster celebrated it’s 100th cumulative year of service, we used the website to request a congratulatory letter…actually we invited both the President and Vice President to attend. We received a letter from the POTUS (it was an auto-penned form letter, but still cool to get something), and I got a voice mail from Mr. Biden’s office with his regrets that he’d be unable to attend our event.

          Of course that was during Mr. Obama’s time in office, and the White House website completely changes around with each administration, so it might be a bit before the best way to request a letter from President Trump becomes available.

        • Cheryl, I know that many letters are sent to the Scoutmaster rather than directly to the Eagle Scout. I’m not saying this is what happened, but it couldn’t hurt to check with your SM to see if he/she has received anything.

        • Did you go through the White House Office of Greeting? That’s the official department that handles these requests, and is the most sure-fire way to get a response. The web link is currently down due to the Presidential transition, but this link below explains how to get congratulatory letters from the President by going through your member of Congress:

          If you just mail/email directly to the President or Vice President, it may not get processed.

        • Neither my son nor my best friend’s son received their letters from President Obama. We both followed the guidelines to the letter, but never heard anything, much to my dismay. We also received letters from past Presidents and other government officials, but not the sitting President. I thought about sending a request of President Trump, but I really wanted him to have one from the sitting President when he earned it. 🙁

    • Thomas, I’m guessing you found the relevant contact email address listed on each department’s/agency’s corresponding website. Your description of having “had good success in requesting congratulations letters” suggests you’ve done this for multiple Eagle Scouts and are, therefore (at least in this forum), a relative subject matter expert. A fair question would be what, if any, documentation must (or perhaps should) be scanned and sent by a parent or advancement chairman along with the email request as an attachment(s).

  4. Pres. Obama & VP Biden sent congratulatory letters to my 2 nephews as well when receiving their ES Awards. I am glad SOS Tillerson will be continuing the thoughtful tradition. I know he will make us proud.

  5. Send the letter. Email may/maynot be dealt with. A “real” paper letter gets attention, both from the White House and the Congress people. Scoutson received letters from all the dignitaries we notified and requested from.

    • Snail mail also takes a long time to go through. All postal mail has to go through a clearinghouse away from DC where the mail is opened and checked for things like anthrax, before it is sent on to the intended recipient.

      My son sent an actual letter to his Senator for Cit in Nation MB, and it took nearly 3 months to get a response, and this Senator is known as one of the ones who responds the quickest in Congress (he’s also known to personally write and sign the letters as opposed to an office staffer).

  6. There seems to be no mention of Quartermaster, again. Girl Scout Gold made it, but will we someday routinely recognize the achievements of the young men and women that attain this difficult, some say more difficult, goal. They should be invited into NESA as well.

  7. This is really cool I must admit. I was also wondering if he could get his good friend, Vladimir Putin to send them one as well?

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