Matt Andrews has traded in one kind of fighting for another.
The former Army Cavalry platoon leader with tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait is now fighting for victims as the newest prosecutor with the Douglas County District Attorneys Office.
Andrews, 32, joined the staff in late November shortly after getting his law degree for Georgia State University and passing the bar exam. He said he is excited about the opportunity.
“Very early on in law school I realized that I wanted to be a prosecutor,” Andrews said. I am very adamant about victims’ rights and that’s why this was so attractive to me. That’s the good thing about this office. They work hard for the victims and that is a driving force in all they do. I look forward to becoming a part of that.”
To say that Andrews came by it naturally would be an understatement. His mother Susan is a retired Army nurse. Andrews’ father Paul is also retired from the army and recently retired from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office near Augusta. His brother Alex is also a deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Keeping order, whether in the military or as a law enforcement officer, is a family tradition.
Andrews was born in Belgium, but said Augusta is home. The family moved often to several military assignments but their time at Fort Gordon was special and his family retired there. He decided to attend the University of Wyoming on an Army ROTC Scholarship and from there, it was off to war.
After graduation in 2005 he was assigned to the 11th Armory Cavalry Unit where he was a platoon leader. The unit specializes in tank operations, but when they hit the ground in Iraq, they found there wasn’t a lot of calls for tank use. Instead, Andrews said they had to adapt.
“There was no need for tanks – you don’t take them on patrol,” Andrews said. “They said here is your Humvee and put you there in the theater. We did what we could to keep our people safe and keep order. You do all you can. We were lucky. We didn’t lose any people, but there were plenty of close calls. It’s not what you would thing. It was the roadside bombs and that constant reminder that they were always there and you just never knew where it would be or where it would come from.”
His second deployment was in Kuwait, but in 2008 he made the decision to leave the Army for the reserves and took a factory job in Statesboro for a company that made windows for skyscrapers. Andrews worked nights and drilled with the reserve unit on weekends.
“I had a friend in the reserve unit that was an attorney in Augusta,” Andrews said. “I did that for a year and a half and it was a grind. He asked me if I had ever thought about being a lawyer. When I got out of college and went in the Army, the last thing on my mind was being an attorney. When he suggested it, I didn’t even think they would let me through the door at any law school. But I signed up to take the LSAT. I worked at night and studied during the day. I got in to Georgia State which is where I really wanted to go.”
After graduating in May and taking the bar last summer, he got word on Oct. 25 that he had passed the exam.
“That is not an exam to take lightly,” Andrews said. “I would wake up, study all day and go to bed. Then wake up and do it all over again. But when I got the scores, I actually interviewed here the next day. It has been a pretty interesting ride.”
Andrews said it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his family and his girlfriend Mary Dow who works as a social worker at a Fulton County rehabilitation facility where she counsels patients.
“They have been great and so supportive,” Andrews said. “Mary is the sister of an Army friend and he had invited me up to Boston for a wedding. We met and hit it off and started talking and over time became very close. She followed me down here and put up with all this craziness. She’s something special.”
He said as far as the job, he still “feels like he’s drinking out of a fire hose,” but said the opportunity to get into the courtroom soon is something he is ready for.
“That is one of the great things about this office,” Andrews said. “Not to be critical of any other office, but they are not afraid to go to court here if that is what is right for the victim. That is something that is great to be a part of.”