Meet our Team
Board of Directors
Dr. Brent Uhler
SSG (Ret) Justin Lansford
Executive Director, Director of Training
Carol graduated from Valdosta State University with a B.S. in Psychology and has since earned a certificate in canine behavioral psychology. During her studies, she also completed two internships; one at Dolphin Encounters in the Bahamas and the second at Zoo Atlanta. Carol is passionate about working with animals and has always wanted to use her love for animals to help people. In 2012, Carol’s husband, Justin, was injured in Afghanistan. Justin’s injuries were severe, and Carol relocated to Washington, D.C. to help during his recovery.
During her husband’s rehabilitation, Carol accepted a position as a government-contracted service dog-training instructor. There are only four federal positions like this in the United States. Carol worked at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she taught others to properly train service dogs for wounded service members. Carol’s love for animals and our nation’s veterans ensured her success in this position.
Following two influential years in the service dog training industry and the completion of Justin's physical therapy, Carol realized she wanted to continue this mission in Florida. Carol’s dream for Valor Service Dogs is to give a higher level of independence and confidence to our nation’s wounded service members through the use of service dogs. Carol has witnessed, first-hand, the life-changing effects service dogs have on our wounded veterans, and she understands the impact they can have on their successful transition to civilian life. Carol knows that with the right training and the right team, Valor Service Dogs can give service members the freedom and independence they so greatly deserve.
Emelie Dash, MBA
Board Chairman, COO Valor Service Dogs
As a member of the board and COO for Valor Service Dogs, Emelie hopes to help the team achieve their vision of becoming the most highly respected and effective service dog organization in the Tampa area. She knows that the bond of trust that these service dogs and the veterans will build will be life changing for all involved in the process. Bringing together her business experience and passion for our country, Emelie is honored to represent this wonderful organization.
Emelie previously worked as a Market Manager for The Dow Chemical Company. Prior to joining Dow, Emelie worked in Athens, Georgia, as a Research Scientist for Synageva Bio Pharma, a biotechnology company focused on providing treatments for ultra rare diseases. Emelie received a BS in Applied Biotechnology from The University of Georgia and an MBA from the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a focus in Entrepreneurship and Marketing.
Emelie lives with her husband and dog in Tampa, Florida. They are on-call sitters for all of the Valor Service Dog pups and facility cat, Teddy.
Dr. Brent Uhler, DVM, MBA
Dr. Uhler has over 20 years of diversified experience in the areas of veterinary medicine, the development of human pharmaceuticals, biotech, and investment banking. Dr. Uhler graduated from Cornell University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science in 1991, Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1996, and MBA with concentrations in Marketing and Operations in 2001.
Dr. Uhler’s commitment to the success of Valor Service Dogs honors his father’s and uncle's careers and dedication to our country. His dad taught him that today’s science is tomorrow’s technology. Technology cannot solve all operational problems. Modern warfare involves the application of all types of equipment, and at times is dependent upon the efforts and skills of animals for transport, logistics, communications, and at times, solace. With the mantra to always protect, enhance, and restore the health of military members on and off the battlefield, it only makes sense that dogs play an important role in their recovery as well.
Debra Isenstein, LCSW-C, MAC
Debra Isenstein has a Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, a BS in Psychology from the University of Maryland, and an Associate Degree in Applied Science and Nursing from Owens College in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Debra has more than 30 years’ experience promoting behavior change and positive outcomes in individuals and families, with much of this work focused on active military and veteran populations. Debra has advanced training in Mind and Body Medicine, and has served as an Associate Investigator for a research study looking at the effectiveness of Seeking Safety; a cutting edge psychotherapy treatment modality for service members with PTSD , TBI, and substance use disorders. She is the recipient of the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service and has been recognized as a Master Addictions Counselor, an award given by the National Association of Forensic Counselors. Debra is approved and registered as a Clinical Supervisor by the State of Maryland Board of Social Work.
Debra’s work has provided her with unique insight and expertise in the assessment and counseling of individuals’ social welfare; particularly those suffering from PTSD. She has seen, first-hand, the potential for service dogs to reduce stress, improve quality of life, and promote integration into society for wounded warriors who have returned home from Iraq or Afghanistan. Her hope is that our dogs will support the recovery of veterans with significant injuries and illness.
Debra lives in Maryland with her husband of 38 years. Her two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren (with one on the way!) live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She enjoys music, traveling, hockey, and spending time outdoors.
Philip Tulkoff, MBA
Philip Tulkoff is the President of Tulkoff Food Products. Phil has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University and an MBA in Finance Concentration from Loyola University. Phil was a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year 2015.
On January 5, 2012, Phil's cousin and his two teammates were killed by an IED in Afghanistan. After that, Phil decided that he wanted to do more to give back to the military community. Phil has volunteered, sponsored and donated to various organizations, but felt he needed to do more to contribute.
His passion driving him to participate on the board of Valor Service Dogs is powered by his love for his country and from the experience of his cousin being killed in action. Phil wants to use his 30 years of business experience to help guide Valor Service Dogs and to connect them with resources to help them grow. Phil is honored and proud to be a part of an organization that is focused on their mission of supplying service dogs to wounded veterans and to help the veterans who have made it back home.
Justin Lansford, SSG, U.S. Army (Ret)
Justin attended Basic Training and Airborne School at Fort Benning Georgia from 2009 to 2010. In February of 2010, Justin was transferred to Fort Bragg, NC, and assigned to 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to Iraq in April of 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. SSG Lansford returned in August, and began training for an Afghanistan deployment. He deployed in FEB of 2012 to Ghazni Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Justin served as a Team leader, and also as a machine gunner.
On April 23, 2012, Justin was severely injured when a roadside bomb struck the truck that he was machine-gunning from. The truck flipped over completely and Lansford was crushed underneath. He was trapped under the burning truck for over 30 minutes before they were able to lift the truck and get him onto a medevac helicopter. Justin suffered the loss of his left leg above the knee, crush injuries to his right leg, a ruptured spleen, damage to his liver and pancreas, two collapsed lungs, a broken back, and burns to his right arm among other injuries. While recovering in the hospital at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Justin suffered several severe infections, each of which came as close, if not closer to claiming his life as the IED itself. After four months of inpatient care, Justin had fought off the infections, and was released to outpatient treatment. He continued physical therapy for almost another two years. In September of 2013, Justin was paired with Service Dog, Gabe, and the two have been inseparable since. Gabe provides Justin with a level of independence that would otherwise be unattainable.
In December 2013, SSG Lansford was medically retired from the United States Army. He is currently attending the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, focusing on the Middle East and the Arabic language.
Staff Sergeant Lansford continues to help fellow service-members by remaining active in the community and publicly advocating numerous veterans’ service organizations. Justin can offer Valor Service Dogs’ leadership a veteran perspective, and will accurately represent the community being served. As a wounded veteran, Justin has a personal connection to the Valor Service Dogs cause, and he is proud to fulfill this role on its board of directors.