Hero's Best Friend

Justin and Gabe

Justin and Gabe - Hero's Best Friend


On April 23, 2012, Veteran Justin Lansford was severely injured in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb struck the truck he was serving on as a machine gunner.

The truck flipped over and Lansford was crushed underneath. He was trapped under the burning truck for over 30 minutes before fellow Soldiers 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. 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.

Hero's Best Friend

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. Gabe assists Justin in basic mobility tasks, such as bracing for stability, retrieving dropped or distant items, and protecting Justin from fall-related injury. Gabe also served another important task for Justin by serving as his Best (Dog) Man in his wedding.

Continued Service

Justin’s wife, Carol, is a former government-contracted service dog training instructor, during which time she worked with Gabe and Justin throughout their advanced training process. After Justin’s medical retirement from the U.S. Army in 2013, Carol and Justin moved to Tampa, FL where Justin attends the University of South Florida, and Carol is pursuing her dream of starting her own nonprofit. Valor Service Dogs, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) organization that trains and places mobility assistance and PTSD dogs with wounded veterans.