Director of Veterans One Stop steps down from her post

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 20:02:09-05

DeLisa Russell, the director of Veterans One Stop, is stepping down from her post.

"I can't imagine not being here, I can't," Russell said. "But I just have to keep thinking about what's next."

Russell began working with the Veterans One Stop three years ago and she's been going nonstop ever since.

Through her efforts, they were able to create a transition home for veterans, open a gym with help from one of Chris Kyle's foundations and install a kitchen that feeds countless hungry veterans.

"From where people doubted if we would even have people come, to serving 800 plates this year at Thanksgiving time," Russell said.

While Russell was focused on providing more services and amenities, she also made it a point to befriend each veteran who walked through the doors.

"I'll miss her personality. She's a lot of fun, she always has a smile on her face," said Jerry Guinn, an Air Force Veteran. "I'm not happy about it but she's got other things she wants to do and she has done a tremendous job for three years."

Russell is known by many for her persistence and dedication. 

"Never say never," Russell said. "If you say no, I'm just going to find another way to ask you."

"You always miss someone who gets the job done," Guinn said. "The amount of stuff she's gotten done over here is just unbelievable."

As services grew at the Veterans One Stop, so did the veterans. When Russell first started three years ago, they were serving less than 2,000 people. By the end of 2018, they served 24,000 veterans.

"Three years ago, this building was empty, very little furniture, the kitchen didn't exist, the showers, so many services didn't exist," said David Steeley, an Army Veteran. "I think she's done a tremendous job while she's been here. She's definitely going to be missed." 

Russell comes from a military family. Her father, husband and son are all veterans. 

"There's no shortage of love I have for the veterans," Russell said. "But my number one veteran is my husband. I know what he did to sacrifice. I hope to have made him proud."

It was during a trip with her family to Jordan in December when Russell knew it was time to move on.

"I was standing in the Jordan River and I said, 'God, what is it that you want me to do now?" Russell said.

Russell has been given an opportunity to work with active duty military as a licensed social worker.

Her last day at the Veterans One Stop will be Jan. 25. She plans to volunteer after that. 

"Oh, I'm not saying goodbye. That would be impossible," Russell said. "There's still so much to do for our veterans. I'm just putting on a different hat."

"It's going to be very hard to replace her," Guinn said. "In fact, I don't think you can replace her. She's going to be very hard to beat."

The Veterans One Stop has yet to start its search for a new director.

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