Although Matt Pitcher’s lungs are still on the road to recovery, he vowed to once again compete in the Florida Keys BrewBQ this summer - ‘I have to beat Tyler Blanton.’ ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

For Matt Pitcher, a commitment to protect and serve his community goes well beyond his 23 years in law enforcement. It’s a promise that drives his career choices even today.

Before moving to the Keys, Pitcher spent 15 years with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, including an extended stint in the undercover narcotics unit and two deep cover assignments combating organized crime and domestic terrorism. His background served him well in the eight years to come with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, during which he continued work with narcotics and the Major Crimes unit.

But in September 2022, what began as an ear and eye infection soon sent Pitcher to Mariners Hospital for more than a week, with an eventual diagnosis of eosinophilic asthma. Though he had suffered from exercise-induced asthma in extreme cases in the past, the severity of the most recent attacks was like nothing he’d ever experienced.

“I remember the first time I got up to go pee, I sent all the nurses rushing in because I couldn’t breathe right and my heart rate went through the roof,” he recalled. “It took basically that full week before I could just walk one lap around the hospital. … At that time, my lung capacity was somewhere around 30%.”

Pitcher eventually tried to return to work, but after executing a search warrant one morning, “I went to my car to go get something, and walking back, I lost it.”

Even more daunting than the physical challenges was the new mental hurdle for Pitcher: as relayed by his doctors, with a long recovery ahead and complete lung function off the table, continuing his career in law enforcement wasn’t in the cards.

“I’m still trying to grasp it, to some degree,” he admitted, the weight of the news still evident as he spoke openly and honestly to the Weekly.

In need of a new career path, Pitcher knew his next job would still need to feed his passion for giving back to his community – and he wasn’t quite ready to fully detach from the brotherhood of MCSO. 

He found his answer with American Income Life Insurance Company (AIL), known for its work with 34,000 different unions across the country. Originally tapped to work with the Fraternal Order of Police doing Zoom conferences with officers on the mainland – “cops talking to cops, definitely works better,” he said – Pitcher soon put in a request to essentially operate his own franchise in the Keys, working with and helping the neighbors he already knew.

The life insurance connection is of personal significance for Matt, whose family was unable to collect on his father’s policy after the latter passed away in 2005. And after what he’d just been through this year, Pitcher realized it would be smart to find life insurance of his own – only to be told that his lung problems now preclude him from obtaining coverage with any company, even the one that hired him.

“(AIL) will insure people that nobody else would, and even they won’t touch me,” he said.

With his family history with life insurance, aligning himself with a company that could cover a wide variety of clients while paying claims consistently was paramount. He noted that AIL’s rating of A+ with AM Best, an independent credit ratings agency, “played heavily” in his final decision.

“I started looking in and quickly learned a whole lot about insurance, and that’s when it all kind of came together,” he added. “I definitely feel like I found my niche where I go and talk to officers now, and not even to sell them a policy. It just became this big mystery where nobody understands these different kinds of insurance. A lot of people are getting ripped off or swindled instead of understanding what’s really needed and what’s not.

“I’m meeting with several people tomorrow who have policies, and they just asked, ‘Would you sit down with me and tell me what I have?’ They really don’t have a clue. I’m meeting everybody face to face, and they have my personal phone number.”

Through 23 years in law enforcement, Pitcher said one challenge that stuck out the most was trying to help families after the loss of a loved one. In this case, it’s what fueled him to look at the new career as a pivot in his calling to serve friends and neighbors in Marathon and beyond.

“I found a direct connection between that and life insurance,” he said. “You’re getting to protect that family ahead of time before a tragedy happens. It sounds weird to say, but when a client passes away, their family can reach out to me directly. I can take care of everything, and I … can be actively involved in making sure the process is easier for them.”

To get in touch with Matt for life insurance inquiries, call 704-201-0622 or visit marathonlifeinsurance.com.

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.