Retired Navy diver helps keep veterans center afloat in Monrovia

MONROVIA, Calif. (KABC) -- A retired Navy diver and Vietnam War veteran has put his stories to paper, writing books and using the proceeds to fund a local veteran's resource center.

Joe Callahan has spent the last five years volunteering at the Monrovia Public Library, helping run its Veterans Resource Center. It helps vets wind their way through the tangle of red tape to find the government resources they're entitled to.

"Veterans need a place that simplifies and streamlines their applications," the 69-year-old Callahan told Eyewitness News, "to make sure that the veteran is receiving all of the support and benefits they've earned."

Monrovia librarian Mabel Cross has been relying on Callahan's help ever since the resource center opened in 2016, calling him "very enthusiastic, very determined." Cross added: "He doesn't take no for an answer."

There are more than 60 veteran resource centers across the state of California, initially funded by the California Department of Veterans Affairs. But after two years of funding, the state the leaves it up to each individual resource center to come up with its own source of money.

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Sidney Walton's goal was to visit all 50 states and meet all the governors to raise awareness of veterans. He was able to visit 40 states throughout his journey.

"The materials that we need, we have to pay for. We're charged for every book, pamphlet and brochure," said Callahan. "We had to have funding to replace those materials, so the donations are important."

But donations can be hard to come by, so Callahan came up with a plan: Write some books and use the proceeds to fund Monrovia's veterans resource center.

"First question my wife had for me was 'Well, what are we going to do with the royalties?' Callahan explained. "I said 'We're going to give them to the Veterans Resource Center. We don't need it and they can use it.'"

So far, Callahan has written and published two books: 1972: My War Story and Navy Diver. When the books, which can be found on Amazon, sell, the profits go directly to the vet center.

"Now that he has the book, every month I have a check," gushed Cross.
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