For Dr. Rondre Baluyot, “Support Our Troops” is more than just a phrase on a bumper sticker; it’s a way of life.
Baluyot (pronounced BLUE-yacht), who was once a fixture on KISS 105.3 as personality “Rondre Adams,” is now partnering with the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville to provide free dental care to veterans.
Although he left radio to start his dental career in 2004, military service is what really runs in Baluyot’s blood.
“I’m a second-generation American,” he said. “My parents migrated from the Philippines. The United States was the land of opportunity for them, and they wanted to provide better for their family. At one point, there was a program where if you served in the Navy for a period of time, you were able to gain citizenship, so my dad served in the Navy in the early 1970s. I was born here, in New York. I want to make sure that when I am being as patriotic as I claim to be, I need to do a service to support that.”
In fact, Baluyot has gone a step further than providing dental service. He is also currently in the process of joining the Air Force Reserve.
“The first reason is that all the males in my family have served except for myself,” he said. “My father was Navy, my father-in-law is Army. My cousin is Air Force; my son is looking to go into Air Force, and my daughter is interested in Army. The second reason is that a lot of times, dental care is outside of veterans’ budgets. With us being able to come in and help out, that can help with the backlog the VA is currently having, and that’s just one thing we see as another way for us to serve our country.”
Baluyot’s military connections go even deeper still. His wife, Michelle, is the chief of optometry at the VA and has been serving veterans for nearly 17 years, starting as a volunteer in high school. Additionally, his office and insurance coordinator, Diana Livingston, is an Air Force veteran.
Livingston served as a military police officer in Las Vegas from 1997 to 1999.
“I have a family history of military active duty, and it was important to me to serve my country,” she said.
With so many ties to the military and veterans, it was a natural transition for Baluyot to use his practice at Oaks Family Dentistry as another form of service.
“This is just another avenue for us to do it,” he said. “One of the benefits of owning a practice is I can say I want to do something that is geared toward veterans and then do it. It may not be the most profitable, but the veterans paid a lot more than that.”
Baluyot has planned a special Veterans Day event to commemorate the new program.
“We’re blocking off that whole day for veterans,” he said. “We’ll probably have some catered food and, ironically, some sweets” — although he is quick to note that if the sweets do any damage to the veterans’ teeth, at least they’re in the right place.
Livingston said the service for veterans is just a part of Baluyot’s larger commitment to serving the community.
“In general, Dr. Baluyot believes in serving all of our patients,” she said. “He has been active with doing the mobile dental van for benefiting low-income patients. He’s always looking for opportunities to help underserved people.”
That emphasis on service is a key component of Baluyot’s success in Gainesville.
“We’ve only been practicing in Gainesville for three years, but we’ve been growing really fast,” he said. “People don’t feel like they’re just coming in and being sold dentistry. We’re trying to take care of their needs, and they appreciate that.”
To put it another way, Baluyot has a motto he tells all of his employees: “We’re here to serve, not to sell.”