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Shipmate Tom Gilbert is in dire need of financial support - please help - Don Gentry

(from Tom Conlon, Nat'l Cdr, USSVI)


The Board of Directors and I recently received a letter from Charles Parker, Commander of USSVI Drum Base in Florida.

Tom Gilbert, one of the Drum Base members is in a life-threatening situation. Essentially he needs a heart transplant and lost almost everything in Hurricane Ivan last year. He and his family have had to make numerous journeys to a hospital in Jacksonville, FL for tests and other procedures related to heart transplantation.

This, combined with the financial losses from Hurricane Ivan, has left them in great financial distress.

Below is the relevant information from the communication we received:

"My name is Charles (Marshall) Parker—Base Commander of the Drum Base in Pensacola, Florida.. One of our members (Tom Gilbert) is in dire need of our assistance. Tom is suffering from congestive heart failure. Tom’s health over the past five (5) years has declined and his heart capacity is down to less than 18%. Recently—Med-Evac’d to Jacksonville’s MAYO Clinic where he was stabilized in ICU and endured a long course of treatment to reclaim a reasonable health standard and more importantly a possible candidate for a heart transplant (when available) or external heart pump. Tom is departing for again, for Jacksonville on the 22nd of May to undergo tests make him eligible to go on the “Heart Donor List”. Without either—his condition will be foregone conclusion and the finality listed under “Shipmate, Rest Your Oars”."

"Tom is a Life member of USSVI (L-0868) since Aug. of 1993. He served on the USS Sea Owl (SS4OS) and USS Harder (SS568). He was the driving force in establishing the “Lifeguard League Monument”, in Pensacola. He and spouse Suzie lost their semi-completed dream house and temporary mobile home in Hurricane IVAN that devastated Pensacola/ Milton. The Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) has provided a new mobile home at a low interest rate. Tom health forced him to retire early from the Federal Work-force and he only receives a partial retirement and is used to pay current “Blue Cross” payments. He collects Social Security Disability but at a reduced rate by not having secured enough credits. Tom is 63.

With a new round of tests there is nothing left in the Gilbert budget to account for per diem, gas or food. Federal, State and other charities do not account for these expenses. The Drum Base and its Ladies Auxiliary donated from the respective Treasuries the amount of $700 dollars. Personal donations from the members of Drum Base were $790. It is requested that the foundation consider matching these funds and alleviate the expense of a prolonged stay in Jacksonville by spouse and dependent Grandson."

We have since learned that Tom has gone to Jacksonville and has completed some of the tests. He is a candidate for and is on a list for a heart transplant. However, he still has to travel to and from Jacksonville for additional tests and other procedures.

The USSVI Board discussed using funds from the Brotherhood Fund withing the USSVI Charitable Foundation. After discussion, we allocated $1000 to help our Shipmate and subsequently sent a check to the contact at Drum Base.

Additionally, we have set up a temporary Fund within the Brotherhood fund that you and your Base may donate to. That fund, appropriately enough, is the “Tom Gilbert Fund.”

Gentlemen, this is what the USSVI Brotherhood Fund is all about – Shipmates helping Shipmates. You all remember what it was like back when we were on the Boats. If a shipmate was in distress, we “passed the hat” or left a white hat in Crew’s Mess where Shipmates could put in a few dollars to help out. This is no different.

I ask you to invite donations from your members and send the money to:

Fred Borgmann, USSVI National Office
ATTN, Tom Gilbert Fund
P.O. Box 3870
Silverdale, WA 98353

We will leave this temporary fund open for 90 days [this article posted 5JUN2005]. At the end of 90 days, we will send any monies that we collect to the Gilbert family.

As I said above, this is what the Brotherhood Fund is all about – shipmates helping Shipmates.

I’m sure that you’ll be generous in helping this shipmate.

Running HSN,
Tom Conlon, NC