TAMPA — Matthew Fugett is living his best life in Tampa now after serving in the Navy, but he says it wasn’t always like that.
What You Need To Know
- Several different groups including military.com have ranked Tampa as one of the best places for veterans and their families
- Matthew Fugett moved to Tampa in 2019, says things for him and family changed for the better
- He is part of a growing trend of veterans who are finding Tampa an ideal place to live
“I used to not really sleep at all," he said. “It was mostly just kinda being afraid to even close my eyes, and that really used to affect how I could function in public and around my family, my wife.”
But he says when he and his wife moved to town back in 2019, things started changing for the better.
“This is my service dog, Smokey," he said. “She helps me a lot on busy, stressful days like this and really just helps keep me calm too.”
Now working to place medical professionals at doctor's offices around the city, Matthew is part of a growing trend of veterans who are finding Tampa an ideal place to live.
Several different groups including military.com have ranked Tampa as one of the best places for veterans and their families based on housing, jobs and access to Veterans Affairs.
“There’s no state income tax," said James H. Haley Veterans Hospital Executive Director David Dunning. “That’s a big deal. You don’t get your retirement taxed and then there’s a whole lot of veterans already here so there’s this camaraderie.
"There's this 'I can turn around and there are all these veterans that are speaking on my behalf, they’re helping me.' I mean, it pervades even the justice system with the Veterans Justice Court that we have here where veterans can be diverted out of the court system."
It's certainly made a difference in Matthew's life now that he and his wife are expecting their first child.
Downing says there are more opportunities for veterans and their families live happily ever after here.
“We’re here to help," he said. “We’re here to help get you back on track. We’re here to help your family wrap themselves around you, so that you can get to your new normal.”