Catholic Charities Veteran Services helps veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness find stable housing and provides ongoing case management that includes financial planning, assistance applying for VA benefits, emergency assistance and more.

Monday, 20 March 2023

Veterans Outreach Center Intern Forges a Connection with Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

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Ruth Messerschmidt is anything but average. The fact that she’s a single mother raising three young daughters is impressive enough. But she is also a Master Sergeant in the Air Force.

A Dedication to Serving Others

Ruth is a decorated lead Combat Medic who has deployed to Afghanistan twice. She has also served in humanitarian deployments to Sri Lanka and Vietnam. In addition to all this, Ruth attended Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

Currently, Ruth is an administrator at the Luke Air Force Base hospital, where she supervises 28 officers and airmen by coordinating the needs of 10 different medical providers. She is also the new master’s level intern at Catholic Charities’ MANA House and Veterans Outreach Center (VOC), specializing in social work.

In addition to the internship, she is a Healthcare Outreach AmeriCorps member at both the state and national level. This role is focused on creating pathways to good quality public healthcare to empower communities with more equitable health outcomes

A Safe Place for Veterans

MANA (Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force) House provides transitional housing and case management for veterans experiencing homelessness and connects them to resources for employment, benefits, transportation, and more. The VOC acts as a safe space for veterans to connect with their peers and access resources.

Ruth’s reason for pursuing a degree in social work is a deeply personal one.

“I suffer from PTSD. My first encounter when I reached out for help through therapy was a negative one. I vowed at that time that I would do all that I could to make sure that all combat veterans seeking out help would be treated with respect and dignity,” she said.

Helping Veterans Work Through Trauma

Ruth’s focus at MANA House is outreach to homeless veterans and getting them engaged in services. She works with Chuck Ashby, the Veteran’s Outreach Coordinator, and volunteers at the Human Services Campus in Phoenix, Ariz.

She has developed training for VOC volunteers related to trauma-informed care and motivational interviewing (a method of counseling that encourages clients to make positive behavioral changes). Ruth understands the trauma homeless veterans experience, and it shows in her work.

“When I walk through the homeless encampment around the Human Services Campus, I feel the despair and fear that individuals feel because of the dangerous environment that they are in,” she said.

Ruth displays a wonderful combination of compassion, strength, and perseverance. It perfectly reflects her mantra of “Hard work pays off.” Ruth is a hero in the truest sense of the word.

Support MANA House and the VOC

If you have a heart for helping veterans, there are countless ways to get involved. Donating needed items from our Amazon Charity List or volunteering are great ways to get started!


Catholic Charities is committed to helping veterans experiencing homelessness in Central and Northern Arizona. To join the No Longer Homeless campaign and support our Veterans, please contact a member of our Philanthropy Team at 602-650-4820 or email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, please visit our website.

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Chuck Ashby

Chuck Ashby is an Air Force Veteran who has worked for Catholic Charities/MANA House for 12 years. He is the Veteran’s Outreach Coordinator for the Veterans Outreach Center on the Human Services Campus.

Chuck works directly with veterans experiencing homelessness. He provides empathetic encouragement and direction for the veterans. Chuck “walks alongside” veterans as they move toward housing, employment, and other services so that they become integrated into the greater community.


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