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.”