November 5, 2020
Mel served as a member in the Army Texas National Guard and the U.S. Army from October, 1967 through July, 1968, when he received his honorable discharge. While on active duty, he was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Although his actual rank was that of being a Private First Class, at Fort Dix his duty station rank was that of Acting Sergeant E-7, where he performed the function of the Acting Operations Sergeant for his Company. While there he helped institute modifications and reforms in the basic training schedules for his Company, which increased efficiency and cost effectiveness, improving both training and logistics. Many of these reforms were subsequently adopted by his Battalion as well.
Once finishing his military service obligation, Mel became a staff attorney for the Bexar County Legal Aid Association in San Antonio, representing economically poor and disadvantaged people. While there Mel had the opportunity to engage in a number of Civil Rights and Poverty Law Reform cases, some of which went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in land-mark decisions that made legal history, having a major impact not only for the poverty community, but also for the broader community throughout Texas and the nation, as well.
In 2019, Mel published his book, entitled The Legal Aid Lawyer, which relates from a personal perspective the stories of some of these cases. Today, Mel enjoys speaking before groups about his book and these cases. In the past, he has delivered such talks at the St. Mary’s Law School, the NCJW San Antonio Section, and a Book Speak program at Temple Beth-El. He has upcoming talks scheduled for the University of Texas LAMP program out of the LBJ Library and the Texas Jewish Historical Society. Mel is a proud member of the Jewish War Veterans San Antonio, Post 753, where he currently serves in the position of Judge Advocate.