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Former Key shipmate, Tom Conlon is running for re-election as National Commander of USSVI - SubVets.  Tom submitted this letter for your information and asks USSVI members for their vote.



I’ve been a member of USSVI since 1982.  In June of 1982 I and several other members gathered around my dining room table.  We 6 formed the nucleus of New Jersey Base. 

I was the first Base Commander of NJ Base.  After serving as Base Commander, I served as NJ State Commander (when we had State Commanders).  From that base of 6 members, we grew to over 125 members. 

During my tenure as Base Commander and later as State Commander, members of our Base have gone on to found other Basses.  Even though we lost members from “spinning off” other Bases, we have continued to grow as a Base.

In the mid 1990’s I and another member founded what later became the Base POC Network.  At the time, the Internet, the World Wide Web and email were just beginning to coalesce into what they are today.  There was very little communication among the Bases and the National Officers – contacting all the Base Commanders by long distance phone calls was too expensive and “snail mail” took too long.  We gathered together the names and email addresses of the various Base Commanders.  We asked other Base Commanders who didn’t have email to designate a member who had email access as a “point of contact.”  As the number of members and Base Officers who had email grew, we added POCs.  We now have POCs in every Base.  The POC network has become a means of “getting the word out” quickly.  We use it to update the membership regarding events and to pass on in formation that is timely in nature

In 1998 I became National Secretary.  When I took over that position, the office of National Secretary was in disarray.  Most documentation was still on paper.  Ballot counting took an inordinate amount of time.  At the 1998 Annual Business Meeting in Hagerstown, MD, it took over 6 hours to tally the vote of the membership.

I developed an Excel Spreadsheet to tally the vote.  The person tallying the vote simply “plugs in” the vote from the various Bases.  The spreadsheet does the rest of the work.  It keeps a running tally of the vote and provides a final count of the nationwide vote.  The job that used to take over six hours now takes less than an hour.

I began recording the meetings of the Board of Directors using professional recording equipment. Before my tenure as National Secretary, the meetings were recorded on an “ad hoc” basis.  Whoever happened to have a cassette recorder and tapes, taped the meeting.  I began the process of obtaining professional grade recording equipment to tape our meetings.  Since then our meetings have been recorded.  The minutes of the meetings are more accurate and they go out to the membership in a couple of weeks, rather than over a month or two.

I also redesigned the National Charter that we issue to new Bases.  Before I took over, there was no standardization of the Charter.  It changed from Secretary to Secretary.  Using Microsoft Publisher, I redesigned the Charter so that all the Secretary had to do was insert the new Base’s name and the date of chartering and the Charter could be printed out and sent to the new Base in an expeditious manner. 

I wrote the Bylaw change so that we now have the ballot on the USSVI web site.  By having the ballot on the web site, members who don’t get their ballots in a timely manner can download a copy of the ballot and get that copy to their Base commander.

I worked in the establishment of our National Office in Silverdale, WA.  In 2000, we saw a need to centralize many of our administrative functions.  At the time our membership had grown to a large number.  Our National Officers were responsible for many of our administrative tasks, such as membership.  Many of those tasks were duplicated.  We also had to “reinvent the wheel” with each change in National Officers.  We saw a need to centralize those administrative tasks and have continuity from administration to administration. 

We began a search within USSVI to find a Base or group that would assist us.  Bremerton Base volunteered to take on the task.  I and other Board members traveled to Silverdale to talk to the Bremerton Base members and to identify the administrative tasks that the office would take on.  From those talks and early startup, our National Office has evolved into the administrative hub of today.

In 2002 I became National Senior Vice Commander.  During that time, I essentially served as an “apprentice” to National Commander John Peters.  There could be no finer “teacher” than John.  I learned much about how to conduct USSVI organizational business.  While John was out of the country, I acted in his behalf.

I became National Commander in 2004.  One of my first acts as NC was to require the other National Officers, Regional Directors and District Commanders to “get out into the organization.”  Before that, many of our members knew the National Officers, RDs, and DCs only as names on the USSVI web site and pictures in the American Submariner.  I believed that, by having us out visiting the Bases and participating in Base, District and Regional events, we could become closer to our members, rather than “nameless, faceless bureaucrats.”  Also, by meeting with the members, we could get a better “feel” for what the members wanted our organization to be and where we should go as an organization. 

In 2005 I saw a need for recognition for Boy Scouts who attained the rank of Eagle Scout.  I asked the National Awards Chairman to develop an appropriate award for Eagle Scouts.  We awarded the first Eagle Scout recognition in March of 2005.  The Eagle Scout Award is a means of “reaching out” to the community and a means of “keeping us in the public eye.”  We are currently developing an award for Girl Scouts who attain their Gold and Silver Awards (the Girl Scout’s equivalent of Eagle Scout).

I have attended many Regional and District events.  I have attended and made presentations at the SUBLANT Sailor of the Year ceremonies in Norfolk.  I have attended and spoken at several Holland Club initiations. 

I had the honor to attend opening ceremonies at the 100th anniversary of Submarines at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.  I have also attended numerous ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. 

As you can see, I’ve “taken my own advice” and put our name out in the community. 

As National Commander, I have always believed in conciliation rather than confrontation.  I believe that we can solve any problem by working together.  Over my tenure as your National Commander the Board of Directors has worked together to solve many problems.  We have had very little acrimony in our meetings.  We may argue and “fight like cats and dogs” in our meetings, but when we’re done, we’re still friends and drink a beer together.  I plan to continue to maintain that sense of collegiality. 

I plan to investigate revising our Constitution and Bylaws.  Once the C&B are revised, this should eliminate the need to constantly “tweak” the C&B every election cycle.

I believe that I have done much good for our organization.  I plan to continue working for SubVets in the future.

I hope that you will vote for me.