Army JAG Corps veteran Whitney Bradfield recently transitioned to Florida. Her only regret: not having moved sooner.
Former JAG Corps paralegal Whitney Bradfield and her eight-year-old daughter Evelyn are digging for shells in the sugar white sands of Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida—a much acclaimed spot on Florida’s southwest coast that has quickly become one of their favorite romping grounds.
In stark contrast to what they would have had to wear back in Indiana to stay warm, the two are clad only in jeans, plaid shirts and flip-flops. Though the sun is low in the sky, it’s warm outside and a gentle breeze is gently rearranging Evelyn’s short cropped hair. Her mom is talking about the reasons she chose to make her new home in Florida; evidence that the decision was the right one for them is mounting by the day.
Sunshine and good weather in Florida
Whitney cites the good climate as her number one reason for having made the move. “Florida is its own lifestyle and it’s fabulous. The sun is pretty much always shining and when it’s not, wait five minutes and it’ll be shining again. That’s my favorite thing—walking out the door and seeing that sunshine, every day, all day long. I absolutely love it. It gives you a sense of something to look forward to all year ‘round.”
A large community of veterans and unparalleled support system
The size of the veteran community in Florida and the support it provides also enticed Whitney. “One of the things that civilians don’t always understand is that if you’ve served, when you encounter someone else who was in the military there’s an instant appreciation and understanding you have with that other person that immediately makes you friends. I’ve found that no matter where I go in Florida there’s always a veteran somewhere. I’ve lived a lot of places and you just really don’t find that anywhere else.”
“If you’re a veteran and you’re thinking about moving to Florida, do it now—don’t wait!” –Whitney Bradfield
Florida’s welcoming and embracing environment
Whitney also relishes Florida’s generally open-armed culture. “The atmosphere here is so welcoming and kind,” she says. “It doesn’t matter where you go. People will let you in front of them in line. I’ve had three people stop me at the grocery store who I’ve never met before and ask me about my day or what I think about the weather. There are always people out walking or riding their bikes. They’re always waving. If you go out to dinner and you’re sitting by yourself, someone will come up and talk to you. It’s just a friendly, wholesome environment. It’s such a relief to know that no matter where we go I don’t have to worry if my daughter is with me.”
Great teachers and schools
The excellent school system compounds Whitney’s sense of ease. “The school systems here are absolutely amazing,” she says. “You can tell that the teachers really love their job and that makes a huge difference. They make an effort to know both the student and the parent. I get emails every day and if there are any concerns I get a phone call. It’s so nice. I always know what’s going on.” At this point, Evelyn chimes in: “I really like the school I’m going to!”
Employers seek out veterans and jobs are abundant
Whitney found that support for veterans extends into the Florida work environment. “I was a paralegal in the Army JAG Corps,” she says. “That position required a lot of organization, time management and computer skills. It was really easy to transition into a civilian job here and utilize those same skills in an accounting and office management role. I had so many interviews very quickly and a lot of the people I interviewed with really wanted to talk about my military background, even more than the actual job.”
A healthy work-life balance
She also seems to enjoy a good work-life balance here, spending a fair amount of time with her daughter outside. “You lose that option for months at a time in colder climates,” she says, touting the lanais (outdoor screened spaces) that are common in Florida homes. “With these outdoor areas, you get so much more for your housing dollar here.”
After their beach adventure, Evelyn dashes over to the colorful playground that lies near the opening to Siesta Key Beach. She perches on a swing and soars, giggling with delight. Looking on, Whitney smiles broadly. This has been a fun day for the veteran and her daughter—warm, bright and active. In other words, perfectly emblematic of their new Florida life.