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Vandenberg Airman is resilient

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The Air Force has a very diverse group of service members Oct. 1, 2018, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Vandenberg’s population has civilians, active duty military, guard members, and civil service.

One of many similarities all these groups share is their resiliency in life. Senior Airman Lucy Rudat, 30th Wing Staff Agency commanders support staff, is a shining example of that.

“On March 4th 2018, I injured my leg while skiing for the first time,” said Rudat. “I got brave and decided to go on the next level slope and pretty much did a back flip while my knee twisted in many different ways.”

The effects of her injury didn’t stay on the mountain.

“The repercussions of my injury were not being able to do PT, work out, play sports, or even the simple tasks, such as, straightening my leg or putting any pressure on it” said Rudat. “I was on crutches until I started Physical Therapy, which really helped. It almost felt as if I was back to normal by the time I had my surgery on May 8th, 2018.”

Having bounced back once, Senior Airman Rudat was ready for the challenge again.

“Talk about disappointment, recovering well and working hard to go right back to ground zero,” said Rudat. “It was especially difficult right after my surgery since just moving onto my side in bed put me in extreme pain. Daily tasks were just as hard, if not harder. Thankfully, my mom flew out for the week and helped me through it all.”

It wasn’t just her mom that helped her through the process.

“My friends really helped me out during this time,” explained Rudat. “They didn’t just forget about me but did what they could to include me and ensure I was comfortable. I was on three weeks of convalescent leave. Also, my Physical Therapist was amazing. I still work with him to this day since I am still recovering. The first month or two of appointments three days a week were torture. Although I knew what he was doing was to benefit me, it was harder than ever to straighten or bend my knee.”

Without proper mobility, everyday tasks were a challenge.

“Seeing Airman Rudat unable to go up the stairs without balancing on two crutches was a huge bummer,” said Senior Airman Clayton Wear, 30th Space Wing photojournalist. “It was a huge inspiration to hear about her physical therapy, and now to see the results of all her hard work was so rewarding.”

Being resilient paid off, and continues to for Rudat.

“Eventually through my PT's support and perseverance with my head strong attitude I have come to today where I am running on a treadmill for up to 10 minutes, working on agility, and deadlifting,” said Rudat. “Lastly, I am very thankful that the Air Force took such great care of me when this happened. I was able to choose my surgeon and my PT was more than attentive to my needs and concerns, while at the same time pushing me to strive for more.”

Being resilient has paid off up to this point, and continues to show through her career. Just recently her title changed from Senior Airman to Staff Sergeant (Select) Lucy Rudat.

“The Air Force always talks about resiliency and I don’t think Airmen really understand it until they have to go through it,” said Rudat. “At the time of my surgery I had to continue studying for staff and at the same time let my body and mind rest to recover as quickly as possible. Not only did I feel discouraged from not being able to move very much or be independent but I also had to focus hard on studying. There were times I wanted to give up and try to sleep, however, I knew I needed to get the job done. I believe studying for staff really helped my recovery because I was never bored when I was on Convalescent leave, I was always busy studying and practicing the little exercises I was given to start working on my knee. Now, I have four-to-six weeks left of recovery and I made Staff! I would like to say it was definitely a success.”

Even through Rudat’s recovery when she was unable to fully participate in physical training, she was still included in other aspects of Air Force culture. Her new perspective, through her recovery, led to success in promotion testing.