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Meet Tom

"Thomas A. Swann, an honorable veteran and champion of diversity, health and workers rights is commended and thanked on behalf of the people of this state...Thank you for bravely fighting on behalf of those unable to do it themselves."
Read the entire Commendation
Bruce Thiesen
Secretary CA Dept. of Veteran Affairs

Tom on the far right (circa. 1962)

Tom "Gator" Swann was born in Gainesville, FL home of the University of Florida.

Tom, Christmas 1963

Student Body President
Hernando High School
Brooksville Florida
Class of 1976

Bill Kibler and Tom meeting with Brian Bond, Deputy Director at the White House

Tom after meeting with President Clinton staff March 2000


Tom served on the national AMVETS Diversity Committee that added sexual orientation to the national bylaws.

Tom founded Riverside County Veterans for Peace and spoke at Camp Casey (Crawford, Texas) with Cindy Sheehan.

Twice, Tom led workshops at the Veterans For Peace national convention on DADT.

Tom attends AMVETS national conventions, Catholic War Veterans national convention and Blinded Veterans Association national conventions.

Spoke on steps of Minnesota state capitol at a peace rally.

Protested 2008 Republican national Convention with Iraq Veterans Against War.

VFP dedicated the peace pole outside Cathedral City Library and at Desert Mirage High Schol in Thermal CA.

Dedicated late Morris Kight peace tree in Palm Springs CA

Tom Swann has donated over $10,000 to charities in the Coachella Valley. This includes $3,000 to Metropolitan Community Church, the flags, rifles and belts for both the Palm Springs Gay Veterans and AMVETS Post 66; also 29 tickets, the cost of the awards and singer at the CA Gay Veterans Memorial Association dinner in September 2000.

Tom Swann graduated from VA blind rehabilitation training and has an injured hand yet he continues to serve the community.

The BottomLine described Venerable Morris Kight and Tom Swann as two of America's 100 heroes when they co-founded Gay Liberation For 21st Century. This small group asks candidates the toughest questions and attracts the largest crowds at forums. They made the first endorsements ever by gays in Ranch Mirage and sponsored the Morris Kight tree. They met with Assemblymember John Longville on reform of Megan's Law.

Tom received the 2002 Community Service Organizational Leader of the Year award from the Desert Business Association.

Tom Swann is a legally blind veteran's activist who has been a leader in civil rights and political causes since 1972. He has turned his AIDS status and HMO Horror Story that caused his blindness to rally and uplift veterans to support the Democratic Party. Three members of Congress nominated him to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS for the next vacant position. Tom was appointed to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs HIV and AIDS Community Advisory Board.

As a student-body high school president in Florida he overcame threats from the KKK when an African-American young woman was selected as homecoming queen. Swann has met with both Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks.

Tom Swann was the only state party officer of the California Democratic Party to endorse Mario Obledo for Governor in 1982. Swann marched with the late Cesar Chavez and was campaign treasurer for Gilbert Saldana, Democratic nominee for Congress in 1986.

Tom Swann won an ACLU case vs. Dept. of the Navy in 1994 based upon sexual orientation and AIDS discrimination. Swann's case won sexual orientation protection for all Navy civilian workers four years before President Clinton signed an Executive Order. Swann was the last gay federal employee to have his access to classified information challenged by the government.

Tom Swann filed California's first AIDS medical malpractice case and testified before the State of California Managed Health Care Improvement Task Force.

Swann was an original member of LIFE Lobby (1986) and Ventura County Co-Chair of the 1986 No on LaRouche Proposition 69 campaign. He received a report card grade of A on World AIDS Day 1999 from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. for his crusade to improve health care for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Swann was nominated to attend the White House Conference on AIDS and has spoken at the POZ-Life Expo in Hollywood. Tom Swann organized the first meeting of veterans with the White House National AIDS Policy Office and scheduled meetings during AIDS Watch 99 and 2000.

Tom Swann has participated in AIDS medical research since 1985. He has attended AIDS Watch in Washington D.C. and AIDS Lobby Day in Sacramento.

Tom Swann has been a delegate to the William Joiner Conference on the Concerns of Veterans sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives. He has received the American Legion Medal of Merit and Heroism Medal.

Tom received an award from the CA. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Founding Chair, California Democratic Party Veterans Caucus

California Asst. Coordinator Veterans for Gore 2000

Co-Chair, Salute to Veterans Democratic National Convention

Tom is the first LGBT appointed to the Riverside County Veterans Advisory Committee.

Tom Swann is founding chair of the only certified Democratic Party veterans' caucus in America. The Governor of Kentucky promoted Tom to be an honorary Kentucky Colonel for his work on veteran issues at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

As President of Palm Springs Gay Veterans, he was shown on CNN Headline News when the organization won the right to march in the Palm Springs Veteran's Day Parade. The group also won the right to join the Desert Veteran's Memorial Association and sponsored California's first celebration of the 55th anniversary of victory in World War II.

This veteran's organization sponsored the April 29, 2000 memorial wreath ceremony at Congressional Cemetery. Also placed the only wreath for gay veterans in California (in Palm Springs) on Memorial Day May 29, 2000.

Governor Gray Davis and State Assembly recognized Tom Swann for spearheading the drive to dedicate Americas first LGBT Veterans Memorial on May 27, 2001.

Tom organized a January 12, 2002 ceremony to honor veterans and American heroes of 9/11. President George Bush sent a letter and President Gerald Ford wrote a letter thanking gay veteran Oliver Sipple for saving his life in 1975.

Tom Swann was called a national hero by NOW President Patricia Ireland when he spoke before the national convention in 1993. Swann voted for women to be eligible for membership in Lions Clubs International.

Tom Swann recieved an award from Palm Springs city council member Ginny Foat

In 2008 a Superior Court jury ruled in favor of Tom's medical malpractice lawsuit. A doctor delayed referal to a hand surgeon when Tom had a severed nerve in his left wrist.

2008 award from Veterans For Peace at national convention

2011 award from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for service to the HIV Community Advisory Board

Organized a memorial wreath laying ceremony at Congressional cemetery on the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau Nazi Concentration camp. The ceremony included the 6th US Army color guard, the same unit that liberated Dachau.

Tom received an award from the Human Rights campaign and I am in the VA Western Blind Rehab center Hall of Fame

In 1974 Tom was a delegate to the national 4-H Citizenship Short Course in Washington DC

In 1975 Tom attended Florida American Legion Boys State.  I won the VFW Voice of Democracy essay contest.

In 2000 Tom received the Kentucky Colonel award from the Governor

In 2002 Tom received an award from the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission

CA State Senator Sheila James Kuehl and State Senate President John Burton 2003

AVER Vets Ceremony - August 28, 2004


Member Desert Business Association
Life Member, Blinded Veterans Association
Member Christians in Commerce
Past President, Palm Springs Gay Veterans
Member, California State Democratic Party Central Committee
Past Member, Riverside County Democratic Party Central Committee
Past Secretary, Democrats of the Desert Club
Life Member and Former Board Member Desert Stonewall Democratic Club
Member IELGDC, Eleanor Roosevelt and Stonewall Los Angeles Democratic Clubs
Member, ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Chapter
Member, American Legion Post 448 (San Francisco)
Member, VFW Post 10149 Cathedral City CA.
Appointed two national AMVETS committees
Past District 9 Commander of AMVETS
Founder AMVETS Post 66 in Palm Springs
Member, Blinded Veterans Association of America
Member California's only Catholic War Veterans Post 762 in San Bernardino
New Member of Disabled American Veterans
Member of 2nd Marine Division Association and Subic Bay Marines
Member, Federal Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees (GLOBE)
Member, National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE)
Member, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc.
Member, Sacred Heart Palm Desert CA
Co-Founder GLF 21
Founder Veterans for Democratic Action
Founder CA Gay Veterans Memorial Association

Tom with employees of the
American Psychological Association

At the Library of Congress


State Secretary and State Vice President California Young Democrats

Secretary Ventura County Democratic Party Central Committee

Drug Awareness Co-Chair California-Nevada Lions Clubs

Picture from 1998 cover of AIDS Project Los Angeles magazine

Tom Swann and Charlie Sharples at America's first memorial dedicated solely to GLBT who died in wars. The memorial is located at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City CA near Palm Springs. The cemetery is where Frank Sinatra is buried at the corner of Da Vall and Ramon near I-10

Website: www.gayveteransmemorial.com



From 1976-80 I served in the United States Marine Corps and later the U.S. Naval Air Reserve reaching the rank of E-6. I received the Navy Achievement Medal. Also a letter of commendation from the commanding officer of the 6th fleet and four meritorious promotions. I received an award from the Navy Secretary. I have met two chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Navy Achievement Medal - from Major General Al Gray, Commander, 2nd Marine Division (also 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps)

Letter of Commendation - from Vice Admiral Small, Commander, Sixth Fleet

Navy Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon

Florida Field, home of the Gators

SGT Swann and Marine Corps friend Rod Mendoza aboard ship at Venice Italy 1978



Facilitated 2 White House meetings on AIDS issues

Testified before California State Legislature

Shaken hands with or been in the same room with every American President since Richard Nixon

Spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Equality Begins at Home (EBAH) rally, Dedication of Harvey Milk Memorial and before employees at the Library of Congress

Parade Marshal at Pride events in Washington, D.C., Norfolk VA. Jacksonville, FL., San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs.

Featured CNN Headline News Palm Springs CA Veteran's Day Parade 1999

Introduced on stage before one million people at the 1993 March on Washington

Organized and sponsored 55th anniversary of victory in World War II and liberation of Dachau Nazi Concentration Camp at Historic Congressional Cemetery Washington D.C.

Placed wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknowns (twice), Veterans Memorial State Capitol and Los Angeles National Veterans Cemetery

Won the right for gays to place a wreath at the Memorial Day ceremonies in Los Angeles and Cathedral City

Color Guard for Allen Schindler Memorial March (Long Beach 1993)

Recipient, Lions Clubs International Award on Youth Activities

Rep. Walter Capps Award and Certificate of Recognition from Democratic Party.

Bob Craig Community Service Award

Palm Springs Human Rights Commission Award

Presidential Stoney Award - Stonewall Democratic Club of Los Angeles

Received Desert Stonewall Lifetime Membership Award Presented by Rep. Barney Frank.

Achievement Award Navy Gay, Lesbian Or Bisexual Employees (GLOBE)

Received Papal Blessing, Saw Holy Shroud and toured Dachau Nazi Concentration Camp

Resolutions from Ventura County Board of Supervisors and Ventura Unified School District

Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps deployed during Iranian Hostage Crisis

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