The Georgia Virtue Veteran Spotlight Series features veterans in communities around Georgia that humbly and selflessly served our country. The series is sponsored by Femac Security Solutions.
Investigator Malcolm Foy has been serving his community in Effingham County for nearly a decade now, but his heart for service goes back many years before his tenure in law enforcement.
The Durham, North Carolina native who also spent time in Connecticut and New York while growing up was immersed in diverse schools of thought from a very young age. His mother and father were near-polar opposites on faith and politics and debate was a conventional part of conversation. In debating with his father, in particular, Foy said he learned early on that if he was not educated on something, he should not discuss it.
It seems like a fairly basic tenet, but when graduation time arrived in high school, Foy was uncertain about which path would best suit him: college or the Army. He found a middle ground and enlisted in the Army National Guard in the state of Connecticut in 1987. The appeal was one he had established organically, as no one in his family had served and it stemmed entirely from his participation in JROTC in high school. That’s where Foy says the ideas of patriotism, love of country, and ‘Honor America’ were ingrained in him.
Foy’s uncertainty, however, led him into the Guard with no preferences. He attended basic training in the summer months of the same year at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and then went on to Fort Lee in Virginia for the Military Occupational Specialty of Advanced Individual Training. Specifically, Foy was an Infantry Food Specialist charged with providing the basic necessities for preservation of human life while safeguarding the inventory at any established base camp. He was trained not only in the food services duties, but also in certain defense tactics, like rigging M2 burners into explosives, if necessary, and establishing primitive camps where their presence would be untraceable.
When he finished with the Connecticut Guard, Foy moved on to North Carolina. That’s where he met his wife, Crystal, and they married not long after their relationship began in 1996. The two would eventually go on to have four children – Delecia, Malcolm Jr, Domonique, and Elijah and, for a period, Foy was out of the Guard completely, working as a consultant. In 1999, however, he rejoined in North Carolina – again in the infantry. During that time, he did a two week training tour at Georgia’s Fort Stewart and for the course of his contract, he mirrored much of what he’d done before in Connecticut.
But working a full-time job, fulfilling the duties of raising a family, and furthering his education through seminary and hope of seeking a Bachelor’s degree made Guard service difficult. Eventually, that chapter came to a close for Foy and in 2008, work brought the Foy family to Effingham County. Though trucking and finance both offered characteristics that were fulfilling in different ways, Foy was still feeling the pull of an industry he’d considered for more than twenty years.
At the age of 44, Foy decided he would begin his career in law enforcement. “My family thought I was crazy,” he said of the decision. “But they were always supportive.”
He applied at the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie and began working as a jailer. He spent two-and-a-half years there and during that time became POST-certified. In 2016, he hit the road as a patrol deputy and in 2017, Foy moved to Criminal Investigations. He’s been there ever since and his main focus is financial crimes.
The same ideas of patriotism, love of country, and honoring America that took him to the Guard remain important parts of Foy’s life today, not far behind his faith. The pillars of each are ones he’s expanded over the years through continued education of the formal and informal varieties. Whether it’s a perspective on America, law enforcement, or blind faith, Foy said there are some concessions he’s simply willing to make for the sake of furthering a small conversation or a larger cause.
“I recognize mistakes our country has made, but keep them in the rearview mirror if only to keep them from happening again. I’m okay with history, I’m okay acknowledging these events because they happened, but as I work with people like me and different from me, I can still recognize the honor amongst us and before us,” Foy said of the position that is seemingly less common in 2022.
But as was the case with the Guard, law enforcement, Foy says, puts people from all walks of life shoulder-to-shoulder without rumination for much of anything.
“When it matters most, no one considers what doesn’t matter: rank, color, tenure. We’re all just men and women wanting to serve, wanting to move toward the profound vision of ‘justice’ which may mean something slightly different to everyone. But it’s still profound.”
It’s also how Foy knows he’s the field that’s fulfilling his true purpose. When asked who has mentored him over the years, Foy simply answered that he’s been embraced by so many people across so many agencies and that fact continues to be the case.
“I’m okay with being in a room and knowing the least among everyone else…It all breaks down when we fail to realize that everyone has something we need and we can offer something to everyone in return. We fail when we see people in groups and not as individuals, so we fail to connect with our neighbors.”
Now 53 and a self-proclaimed ‘lifelong learner,’ Foy says what matters most to him is being an effective communicator with the right amount of integrity when it counts. “There are things I know, things I don’t know, and things I don’t even know exist. But personally or professionally, I want to continue seeking the truth, even when I don’t like the answers.” That means, above all, listening to others.
His colleagues joke that Foy is a talker…who loves to talk…and will talk to anyone, but he has a knack for picking the brains of those around him on issues you wouldn’t expect to be conversational in mere passings. Should you run into him at the courthouse or the Sheriff’s Office or anywhere else around the county, you’ll likely find him engaged in a lengthy conversation with someone about deep ideological concepts, if you aren’t party to that conversation yourself. But again, it’s the listening component for Foy.
It’s also a trait he elevated in priority after a tragedy that tested everything. In 2018, Foy and his wife lost their son, Malcolm D. Foy. Losing a child is an unimaginable and unrelenting pain, but for those who know him, it’s no surprise that in honoring his son, Foy sees him as his role model.
“He was prophetic, had an immense foresight, an insight into human behavior. His creativity, his love for others, he was an artist, a creator – he wrote music and poetry – and he was an innovator. All of these things at once…when I look for inspiration, I look to who he was. I want to be him.”
Such hardships and accomplishments alike could only be possible through perseverance…and a strong faith. Foy says he is saved by grace and that God daily gives him the opportunity to have impactful interactions with the community in which he serves.
“I’d do this job for free.” Laughing, he continued, “It’s good that I don’t, but I’d do it free. I’m a lifer.”