Heather’s background was human medicine and nutrition and after 10 years in the medical field, she took a chance in the world of animals, (her true love). In 1998, Heather started Critter Corral, Inc., a healthy nutrition and wellness shop for pets. It is about trust and taking the time to explain nutrition; providing knowledge to enhance longevity and researching the best products and information for positive results.
She has basic principles and an unwavering commitment to give back to her community and what better way than to use both the medical knowledge obtained with the training/nutritional skills to develop a vision that includes canines that will embrace our Veterans health and wellness when they return from serving their country. Upon befriending a homeless Army veteran in 2014, she created Tails of Valor Paws of Honor Program Inc. which became a stand-alone 501(c)(3) in February 2016. Heather's goal was to create an opportunity to save two lives, rescued canines and our nation's Veterans, while developing a form of medical modernized therapy that impacts the mental and physical rehabilitation directed towards a positive behavioral lifestyle for our Veterans.
Join us for the journey of a Service dog...
Susan grew up in Rhode Island and earned a Bachelor's and M. Ed from Providence College in Special Education and English. She has taught Special Education for 14 years before having children herself. Currently living in Allentown and employed by the Kellyn Foundation as a lifestyle educator, she works specifically with third, fourth and fifth graders teaching healthy eating and lifestyle choices in overall health. Learning of Tails of Valor in "Causes of the Lehigh Valley" inspired me to learn more and volunteer for this great organization. I am looking forward to continually spreading the news about Tails of Valor to all I meet, helping to make a difference in the lives of our Veterans.
Helen Luther is a Salesforce Project Manager at Aesculap, Inc. a division of B. Braun Medical, Inc. She previously worked as an IT Manager at Mack Trucks and a Project Manager in the clinical trials and education industries. Her professional background includes successful implementation of numerous FDA and SOX regulated projects and audits. Helen also taught elementary school children in the Lehigh Valley. Her passion for animals comes from her strong belief that during challenging times, pets provide comfort to folks of all ages and stages of life. The 3 dogs she raised during her adult life opened her heart to the training and care of animals. In her Bethlehem home, she and her family have enjoyed being puppy sitters for Tails of Valor dogs Holley and Dietz. Her dedication to supporting our veterans stems from a long list of family and friends who dedicated their lives to the US military and who are currently defending the freedoms of our great nation. She firmly believes in her duty to support vets who return from the military experiences which result in emotional and physical challenges. Helen also supports New Bethany Ministries via corporate projects and has served as her neighborhood’s Luminaria captain for over 10 years. She enjoyed supporting the Helping Hands organization which feeds and clothes the homeless. Helen has a strong belief in the power of community service to build relationships and forge bridges to new perspectives. With the support and enthusiasm of her corporate teams, she has helped drive several Tails of Valor training facility maintenance and fund raising projects.
Corporate Sponsor/Board Member Advisor
Russell Armstrong is a 6 year Navy Veteran, He graduated in the top of his nuclear power school class and went on to become an instructor at the nuclear power prototype plant in West Milton NY. Following his duty in NY, he went on to serve aboard the USS Seahorse SSN 669, a nuclear power fast attack submarine out of Charleston SC.
Following his Navy service, Russell went on to develop and build Natural Animal Nutrition Inc. (NAN) a pet food distribution center in Northern Maryland. During the development period of NAN,
Mr. Armstrong recognized the need for the development of a high quality holistic pet food to meet the health needs of pets within the Mid-Atlantic region. In 1993, He developed Verus Pet Foods, Inc. and continues to grow and develop both NAN and Verus today. NAN services over 700 retailers throughout the region while employing over 80 people. Verus has grown and expanded and is currently available in the United States, Canada, China, and many Asian countries.
In 2015, Mr. Armstrong began the sponsorship of service dog training programs to assist organizations dedicated to Veterans suffering with PTSD and TBI. The sponsorship with Verus Pet Foods assists organizations training service dogs with pet food expenses as well as aiding veterans paired with service dogs with their ongoing food expenses.
Russell has a deep compassion for companion pets and has served as a board member for the Worcester County Humane Society as well as donating pet food to numerous rescues and humane societies throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. As well, his love of this nation and those who have served and sacrificed is well established through his support of organizations such as Tails of Valor.
Board Member Advisor
Dr. Ballek is an individual with a deep passion for animal care and their well being. Her career as a Veterinarian was born out of a childhood love for her family pets and any other animals that crossed her path.
After a very successful academic career in Saucon Valley School District, Kara attended the Pennsylvania State University majoring in Animal Bio-Science. Upon graduating at the head of her class from Penn State, Dr. Ballek continued the pursuit of her dream career at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. During Vet School, Kara worked part-time at the Quakertown Veterinary Clinic, and accepted an Associate Veterinarian position at QVC after graduating from Penn. Dr. Ballek eventually transitioned into a similar position at Lehigh Valley Animal Hospital, where she spent nine years of her career prior to opening Creekview Veterinary Hospital.
Kara has had many in her life that have served our country including her father. It is an honor to be part of such a giving organization and for both our furry friend and Veteran to benefit is an inspiration that I want to be a part of.
Alexandra Papoutsis is an auditor at Herbein + Company, Inc. Graduated from Albright College in 2019 with her Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Alex spent her four years in school passionately involved in student groups that were focused on giving back to the community. Part of this experience includes leading a women’s group at school to raise over $10,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, holding fundraising galas in support of geriatrics, volunteering at Rittenhouse Senior Living, and much more. Also, the Berks County Scholastic Poet Laureate and PICPA Outstanding Senior Award recipient, Alex is a Berks County native.
Now raising her first-born son, James, Alex has come to understand a deeper meaning of family. Family is love, family is everything, family grows, and our hearts get bigger for it. Alex’s father, Pat Papoutsis, recently graduated the Tails of Valor program with his service dog, Marclee. Seeing firsthand the impact and healing that a veteran/dog duo makes on the veteran and the veteran’s family, Alex looks forward to passing this same hope forward and helping the veteran community rediscover happiness and connection. She is forever grateful and endowed to Tails of Valor for the gift of family.
Go Tails! Go Vets! Go service dogs! Let’s change lives together!
Brian Staub served his country in the United States Marine Corp and is currently a Union Steamfitter. A devoted family man, Brian searched to go beyond for a bigger purpose. Upon finding Tails of Valor, Brian believes that with his passion for his country and Veterans, love of dogs and leadership skills he will help Tails of Valor grow further into the future. "I want to be part of this organization and participate in the journey of a service dog from befriended families of our fallen, to supporting those that continue to serve. I believe that together we can accomplish great things in life."
Gold Star Mother
Lynda Gehris is a Gold Star Mother. When she lost her son to suicide after his 3rd deployment to Iraq in 2008, her world fell apart. She has been looking for a way to honor her son's memory but for the last 9 years feels that the most she could do was just get out of bed every day. Her friend Anna Rodriquez, who is also a Gold Star Mother, asked her to attend a Tails of Valor event last year and she was encouraged by the success stories she heard and witnessed. Lynda was inspired hearing about the Veterans who were once struggling with hopelessness and depression, who upon being partnered with a service dog began to heal. She feels that TOV offers healing support to these Veterans who have witnessed unspeakable trauma in their lives, embracing them as family. "I only wished that my son had, has this opportunity. I never want another mother to have to bury their child."
Lynda feels that she has finally found a way to not only honor her son, but to also save a dog who may otherwise have been destroyed. The partnership of this unconditional love and support is inspiring hope. They save each other - being a part of this organization helps many heal not just the Veterans.
Stephanie has been in radio sales and marketing for 25 years with 99.9 The Hawk, Cat Country, WLEV and Fox Sports. She also organizes several events including Stars of Craft Beer Fest. She served in the Army for 6+ years as a motor transport operator, administration and mail clerk in Texas and Germany. Her interests include traveling abroad and the states, reading and helping raise puppies with Tails of Valor. She heard about TOV while writing a commercial for a radio broadcast at one of her client's events and when she met Rachel at the event she was hooked. She is passionate about the TOV program, people involved and especially giving back to Veterans and saving lives.
Allison has spent the majority of her professional career in the retail industry. For the past 20 years she has been working in various positions within Walmart. The high paced challenging atmosphere has allowed her to gain valuable experience in problem solving, merchandising, and customer service. While with Walmart, Allison took an interest in becoming a better community partner and began volunteering with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. As a team captain and planning committee member, she helped her Walmart team raise in excess of $90,000 for the event over the years.
Allison has a true love of dogs and currently has three rescues. She began volunteering with Tails of Valor in the late summer of 2017 as a way to continue helping rescues and to help our Veterans get the support they deserve for their service to our country. Allison wanted to join the Board of Directors as she feels she has valuable skills and creative ingenuity that can help TOV continue their mission. Having the opportunity to contribute to a cause that helps both Veterans and dogs is a dream come true for her.
Joe grew up in northeastern New Jersey and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. He worked for Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) from 1984 until his retirement in 2018. Joe has been married to his wife Donna since 1986 and has 2 grown children. They have lived in Upper Saucon Township since 1985. After retiring, Joe has been volunteering his time to help train the dogs at Tails of Valor. “After I retired, I decided to volunteer at Tails of Valor because I have always loved dogs, and I have the utmost respect for our veterans. Tails was a perfect fit for me. It has been a very rewarding experience”