Soldiers have a very special place in the heart of Dalena Kanouse, CEO of Management and Training Consultants, Inc., a Manassas, Va.-based company with operations in Killeen.
MTCI is a company that manages government contracts, offers resiliency training and other business services that work closely with the Army and Army National Guard.
“It’s a really special story,” Kanouse said in a phone interview, explaining how the business began. She and her husband, Sam, were high school sweethearts at Killeen High School in the 1970s. Sam Kanouse served 25 years in the Army, they raised three children and retired in Virginia.
Sam and his then-college-aged daughter started MTCI in the family’s basement in 1999.
“We went back for his high school reunion in 2005 and thought, ‘you know, (Killeen) is such a nice quiet place; we need to move back here,’” she said. “He wanted to give back to the organization that gave so much to him.”
At the time, because of Sam Kanouse’s military service, MTCI was a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. When her husband passed away after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia in 2009, the company lost its special status.
“That was pretty devastating for us,” Kanouse said. “But our determination, our perseverance, and our constant striving for quality service got us to where we are today.”
Kanouse moved MTCI’s headquarters back to Manassas in 2009, keeping a satellite office in downtown Killeen.
Ivan Geter is the training development specialist for the local office. One of his jobs is to conduct resiliency training at Central Texas College for soldiers in the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade.
A man who practices what he preaches, Geter served in the Army for 20 years as a field artilleryman and deployed to Iraq in 2005. He came home and was diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder after witnessing horrors such as watching a soldier catch fire. “He survived, but that really did something to me,” Geter said.
Now Geter teaches soldiers how to overcome such trauma in a four-day resiliency workshop, culminating in physical challenges at the Peaceable Kingdom Retreat outside Killeen. There the soldiers put their classroom training to use by overcoming their fears of heights by climbing a tall tower, descending on a zip line, and tackling high and low ropes courses.
The resiliency training at the college campus is an interactive, small-group based experience, Geter said.
“It’s great to see how those soldiers take our classroom information, and they actually apply it,” he said.
Another “specialty” for the local MTCI office is to assess colleges and universities that participate in the military tuition assistance programs. “We make sure those colleges and universities are treating our military the same as everyone else,” Geter said.
Seventy-five percent of MTCI’s 108 associates are veterans, 50 percent are retirees, 38 percent are disabled, and 27 percent are combat veterans.
“We would not be what we are today without our military,” Kanouse said.