Corporal Cesar Garcia’s life had changed forever in 2004.
While deployed in Baghdad, he suffered critical injuries in an explosion, leading to 42 surgeries and 18 months of neurocognitive rehabilitation.
In the years following, despite his life being altered significantly, Cesar continued to serve six more years in the military on medical retirement, followed by a position with the Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration.
After subsequent years in the corporate sector, he decided to make a big change. Cesar had always been fascinated by construction and engineering and decided to pursue this interest within Occupational Health and Safety. Says Cesar, “As exciting as my previous experiences were, I always felt like I needed to do something that was selfless and bigger than myself.”
He found his calling in the form of helping to bring affordable housing to local communities, as a member of Katerra’s affordable housing renovations team. Cesar first learned of Katerra when Homes for Wounded Warriors and the Southwest Region Council of Carpenters built a home for his family in Peoria, AZ to honor his service. Katerra participated in the project by donating the trusses for the home. Of the experience, he said, “I think every veteran thinks there’s another veteran that deserves it more than them. A place where we can call home and build relationships with the neighbors and communities… It’s an overwhelmingly humbling experience.”
Soon after the introduction, Cesar joined Katerra’s affordable housing renovations team as a Senior Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) Technician earlier this year. “It’s very exciting to have an opportunity to promote change and diversity with a young company and a team that brings joy to everyone involved. The culture and family-like atmosphere of this team is awesome. I’ve served with many great teams in my career, but this is honestly the best I’ve had the privilege to work with.”
Cesar cites being open to new ideas and embracing opportunities to learn with as keys to his success as an HSE Technician. “My goal is to promote and enforce safety accountability from everyone on our projects while implementing employee participation. My job is to recognize what employees are doing right before coaching, mentoring, and encouraging change in behavior.”
“It’s very exciting to have an opportunity to promote change and diversity with a young company and a team that brings joy to everyone involved.”
His passion for health and safety is fueled by his personal history. “I use my injury as a method to bring awareness and learning opportunities to our employees, subcontractors, and residents. My history provides a visual to what I am trying to promote, and it works! Construction and Combat are one and the same because, in our professions, lack of training, commitment, and complacency can be disabling or deadly. I enjoy serving my fellow construction workers and the public while working to create an outstanding safety program and culture.”
Cesar isn’t stopping there. In addition to becoming an OSHA 500 Authorized Trainer, along with a range of other HSE certifications, he is set to receive his Master of Science in Occupational Safety Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2020. But, says Cesar, “None of these certifications make a safety professional alone. It’s no different than the military – basic training doesn’t make you a soldier. It’s an equal combination of training, experience, and humility that makes someone a true professional.”Back