Special Warfare Training Wing physical medicine technician embeds with NASA

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Xiaofan Liu
  • Special Warfare Training Wing

From advancing force development of future Air Force Special Warfare Airmen to working with astronauts, life has been far from boring for the SWTW’s Staff Sgt. Emily Valdovinos.

Valdovinos was hand-selected to assist the NASA Astronaut Strength, Conditioning and Rehab Group to help develop personalized strength, conditioning, and rehabilitative plans for NASA astronauts with Crew-3 after they returned from the International Space Station for their 45-day reconditioning period.   

“Emily was specifically selected based on the skillset she has worked so hard to achieve for herself,” said Maj. Danielle Anderson, musculoskeletal medicine and rehabilitation lead, ASCR Group. “With her passion for human performance, dedication to ensuring the highest quality of service is delivered, and her energetic professionalism, Staff Sgt. Valdovinos was the perfect NCO to support our team.”

The mission of the ASCR Group is to optimize the performance and physical readiness of the astronaut corps utilizing an interdisciplinary team approach, evidence-based practice, and emerging science and technology through an astronaut’s lifespan. The team focuses on optimizing the astronaut’s physical performance as he or she prepares for, lives in, and returns from the ISS.

At the SWTW, Valdovinos serves as the non-commissioned officer in charge of performance rehabilitation for the Special Warfare Candidates Course and Pre-Dive Course, where her experience working with SWTW trainees directly transfers to working with NASA astronauts.

“In [both the SWTW and NASA], I work hand in hand with a multi-disciplinary team to provide the best possible care to our case load,” said Valdovinos. “I work directly under a physical therapist alongside a strength coach and athletic trainer to help develop personalized strength, conditioning, mobility, and rehabilitative plans for each person who needs assistance; we do ruck marches every week, throw sandbags, and are on a very strict workout schedule at NASA, just like the SWTW.”

In addition to working with astronauts, Valdovinos has also been afforded many unique opportunities available only at NASA while embedded with the ASCR Group.

Valdovinos joined in a live call to the ISS with Crew-4, toured NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab where astronauts train for extra vehicular activities (space walks), visited the Apollo Mission Control Center, learned about the various exercise equipment available to astronauts while in space, and much more.

When asked what she will take away from her time working at NASA, Valdovinos stressed the importance of the multi-disciplinary team and its ability to work seamlessly together to provide the best level of care for the individual, regardless of whether that individual is an astronaut, SWTW trainee, or AFSPECWAR operator.

“Personally, I have grown in many ways as a professional and as a person,” said Valdovinos. “I feel incredibly humbled to have even been considered for this position as it has been my dream to train astronauts and support the Space Exploration mission ever since I was young.”

Members of SWTW provide initial training for all AFSPECWAR training specialties, to include combat controllers, pararescue, special reconnaissance and tactical air control party Airmen.

To learn more about SW Airmen or other U.S. Air Force Special Warfare career opportunities, go to: https://www.airforce.com/careers/in-demand-careers/special-warfare.