During his 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, which included deployments to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, he worked in a civil engineering group as Heavy Equipment Operator and then Crew Chief. Velarde’s commitment to leadership propelled him to a role as a training leader and unit safety officer where he trained office personnel on safety and risk management.
He studied to become a paralegal, which led to opportunities with the Judge Advocate General Corps, where he eventually managed a legal office. Then he was tapped to establish a new Environmental Law Field Support Center in San Antonio, serving both as an office manager and a paralegal for complex environmental litigation.
On Flag Day, June 14, 2013, Velarde celebrated his Retirement Ceremony in San Antonio. One month later, he found out about TEEX from a friend, who knew of his interest in the environmental field and his background in law and policy.
“I learned that TEEX offers a program for veterans, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me,” he said. “I had met the requirements of serving honorably, and the GI benefits application was fairly simple. I reached Steve Robinson, the Veteran’s Liaison for TEEX, who pointed me in the right direction, and I was able to get started with TEEX training courses right away.”
As a student in the CSHO fast-track program, Velarde attended courses at several different TEEX campuses -- including San Antonio, Austin, and Mesquite. During this time, he completed the OSHA Train-the-Trainer General Industry safety and health outreach program, as well as the Train-the-Trainer Construction Industry course.
In addition to General Industry and Construction courses, he gained professional training in PEC Safeland Safe Gulf, Medic First Aid Adult and Infant CPR, Aerial Working Platform, Forklift train-the-trainer, Fall Protection, Confined Space, and Hydrogen Sulfide. He accumulated about 426 credit hours in less than six months. The TEEX program not only helped him improve his safety training knowledge, he said, but also helped him to acquire better teaching and communications skills, and improved reporting methods.
Velarde was already receiving job offers, but wanted to complete his training in order to gain the most knowledge. This commitment to excellence also paid off – upon finishing his coursework, he did find the right job. His years of military service, combined with the recognized TEEX CSHO classes helped him to land a great job and negotiate his salary.
“The training provided that leverage, and helped me to become a strong candidate,” said Daniel. “I truly feel that TEEX helped me make a name for myself and become established.”
Initially he was hired by Mesa Safety Services, where he worked with oil and gas clients in Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Then in December 2014, he started his own company, The Safe-Way Training Company (TSWTC, Inc.) based out of San Antonio, and continues third-party consulting for Mesa Safety Services.
His values of service, commitment, and leadership continue to shine through, and the CSHO courses offered by TEEX have helped him continue to serve others by sharing the importance of safety, and ultimately, saving lives.
By Alison Sawyer, Communication Specialist
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service