Face of Defense: Soldier Finds Calling in Law
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2010 Army Capt. Andy Scott started out as an Army engineer, but an interest in the law led him down a different path.
“After a deployment to Iraq as a platoon leader, I saw firsthand the importance of law and order and the impact of the law on the battlefield,” said Scott, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. “I realized that I could offer the Army a lot as an attorney.”
Scott shifted gears and applied for the Army’s Funded Legal Education Program. This program enables officers to go to law school while the military picks up the bill in exchange for a service commitment. He completed his law degree and now is assigned to the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service at Fort Carson, Colo.
“It's a real honor for me to be able to represent soldiers in the courtroom and other proceedings,” said Scott, who hails from Lorton, Va. “Having been a combat platoon leader, I know and share the experiences that many of my clients have had while deployed, and I can't imagine a more rewarding job than representing these soldiers.
“I'm really humbled by some of the acts of courage that some of my clients have performed,” he continued. “I think that, as a lawyer, it doesn't get any better than sitting in the courtroom next to a soldier who's served his or her country.”
Scott has been deployed twice, and both were “life-changing” experiences, he said. His first deployment was with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from 2003 to 2004, when he served as an engineer platoon leader in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I.
“To have such a life-changing leadership experience at such a young age -- I was 22 when we deployed in March 2003 -- is something that most people just don't get,” he said.
He deployed to Iraq, again with the 3rd ACR, in 2005, but his time overseas was cut short so he could begin law school.
“I was a squadron [personnel officer] for that deployment, so I got to see the other side of combat operations: the staff work,” he said.
Scott’s dedication to service is a family tradition of sorts, he said. Both of his grandfathers and his father went to the U.S. Military Academy, and all five of his brothers and sisters are in the military – four in the Army and one in the Air Force. On his father’s side, he can trace his military lineage back more than 130 years.
Scott said people are sometimes surprised when they hear about the Scott “family business.”
“Usually they're somewhat in awe,” he said.
Scott said he believes his family’s military devotion can partially be attributed to sheer numbers. “Both my parents grew up as Army ‘brats’ and have a lot of uncles who went to West Point and served in the Army, so my siblings and I were just born into an environment where there were a lot of military members.”
His family’s younger generation had an opportunity to see the military success of the older members, he noted, “and it was such a positive thing to watch that it was only natural that the younger ones would follow.”
Scott said he arrived at his decision to join at a young age.
“I certainly didn't know exactly what a career in the Army would be like, even with a father who spent 30 years on active duty, but I could see that it was a noble profession, and one that rewarded hard work and dedication,” he said. “Twelve years later, I can say that I'm very glad that I made that decision to go to West Point, because I've had some incredible experiences since then.”
He attributes much of that positive experience to the people with whom he serves. “There's no question that the Army provides its servicemembers some incredible opportunities for work, education, travel, and personal growth. But the heart of the Army is its people,” he said.
“The Army has some incredible technology at its disposal,” he added, “but I'd take a platoon of 30 guys over a piece of computer-assisted equipment any day. The Army wouldn't work without its people, and it's lucky enough to have some of the best.”