By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1984, former Army Capt. Reuben Dickenson served five years in Army aviation, primarily in Germany. The path he took following his military service, he said, was a natural direction to go: the health care sector.
“A basic tenant of leadership I really latched onto during my military service was servant leadership,” he said. “I’ve always been about taking care of people, so … I knew health care was a great long-term career field.”
Dickenson’s post-military career began at GE Healthcare. Following 14 years with GE, he held management and leadership roles at several other companies, including Thermo Fisher Scientific, before moving into the behavioral health field.
In 2018, he started at Telemynd, which partners with insurance providers, hospitals, and practices to provide therapy and psychiatry in a virtual setting.
The company has seen an increase interest in and use of its services from both patients and providers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic removed a significant barrier to adoption [of virtual behavioral health services] and provided an incentive to use it and become more comfortable with it,” said Dickenson, who currently is vice president of strategic partnerships and works with large and regional potential partners to understand their needs and tailor a program to help solve those needs.
He said working the behavioral health space has been eye-opening.
“What I thought I knew paled in comparison to what I learned from talking to providers,” he said. “I was overwhelmed by the amount of need and demand for access to quality behavioral health care.”
Part of that unmet need was from the military community. Dickenson said when he first started there, Telemynd had no military referrals. That soon changed.
“We started having meaningful conversations with leadership in the TRICARE-related space and optimizing our capabilities and network. [Telemynd is] now the only national partner for tele-behavioral services for the entire TRICARE community.”
During a six-month period, Telemynd had over 50,000 sessions with military beneficiaries.
“Even that large number is a tiny fraction of the total need being met,” Dickenson said. “We are continuing to add providers as quickly as we can.”
In his personal life, Dickenson continues his connection to the military community. He is a member of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of MOAA; he serves as West Point’s district admissions coordinator, Tennessee 7th Congressional District; and he and his wife are presidents of the local Naval Academy parents’ group.
Professionally, he is grateful for the opportunity to provide members of the military with access to a needed service.
“In the military, it’s all about the unit and the mission,” he said. “It’s obvious a significant readiness issue is the mental health care crisis, so [what I’m doing professionally is] a great way to help at a macro level.”
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.