Welcome Home, Veterans
MU alumna uses personal experience to run homeless veterans shelter.
Aneisa Sherrill-Mattox, MSW ’06, was an emancipated minor at 16, a U.S. Navy aerographer’s mate at 18, a military wife and first-generation college student at 19, a seventh-generation veteran at 20, and a divorced and homeless veteran at 26.
Inspired by the social workers she had interacted with, Sherrill-Mattox used her GI benefits to enroll in a psychology program at Oklahoma State. But if it wasn’t for the director of Housing and Residential Life who listened to her story, helped her get a full scholarship, let her stay in the dormitory and set her up with a job as a parking enforcer, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
Since April 2008, Sherrill-Mattox has been executive director of Welcome Home, a homeless veterans shelter in Columbia. In addition to providing food, clothing and shelter to more than 134 veterans in 2013, Welcome Home helps veterans and their families with life-skills training, budgeting, job preparation, transportation and legal aid.
“Whenever I’m working with an individual, I try to look at it from the lens of when I got out of the service at 20,” she says. “I couldn’t have told you the difference between the VA compensation and pension programs. I didn’t understand that I needed to apply for Social Security benefits or food stamps.”
Sherrill-Mattox didn’t think she was going to end up working exclusively with homeless veterans, but it’s a natural fit.
“Mine is somewhat of a sordid tale, but I looked for those moments of opportunity to move forward,” she says. “Engaging in social activities and in work that I find meaningful, whether it’s through volunteerism or my work here at Welcome Home, is part of the therapeutic process.”