Jun 11, 2021
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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.
A MESSAGE TO THE
MEMBERS OF USSVI
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
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
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
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.