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!