By Deb Silverthorn
A young boy’s dream to serve his country and the scales of justice was realized when U.S. Army First Lt. Aaron Grodin reported for duty as an Army Reserve officer.
Grodin returned to Dallas earlier this summer after completing 11 weeks of military legal training at the Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Va., followed by six weeks of Direct Commissioning Corps work at Ft. Benning, Ga.
For the next eight years, he will serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year at the First Legal Operations Detachment, based at the Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Center. The unit goes into “ready” status in October and, should a legal unit be needed, Grodin would be ready to deploy.
“I’m now a soldier before a lawyer,” said Grodin, who will handle cases relating to legal assistance, family law, consumer protection and landlord-employer issues. He said it’s “inspiring and an honor” to be with those who serve full-time.
An El Paso native, the son of Judy and Sandy Grodin and brother of Josh Grodin and Jeremy Grodin, Aaron is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the SMU Dedman School of Law. He is engaged to interior architect Melissa Simon, with a February 2013 wedding planned. The couple attends services and young adult events at Temple Emanu-El.
Grodin carries on a family tradition of military service. His uncle Danny Grodin was a Marine; his grandfather, the late Irwin Grodin, served in the U.S. Army; and his uncle, cardiologist Jerrold Grodin, joined the Army Reserves on Sept., 12, 2001, at age 51 in response to the terrorist attacks the day before. Commissioned as a major, Jerrold Grodin’s commitment, which continues today as a lieutenant colonel, has included two deployments to Iraq and service at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
“Aaron has joined a special club, one whose members sign on to give our lives for our country, family and homes. His choice to do so is a natural evolution for him and comes as no surprise to our family — we are so proud of him,” Jerrold Grodin said. “My nephew has such incredibly deep feelings about the ethical values of life: truth, fidelity and honor. I hope and have no doubt that he will find deep satisfaction in doing federal service for his country.”
Aaron Grodin joined the Howard Hughes Corporation as a litigation attorney in 2010, first letting his superiors know of his plans to join the Army Reserves.
“I let them know this was something I wanted to do, and I hoped it would work out,” he said. “Not only did they say it could work out, they made sure I knew they would support me 100 percent, and that they both respected my plans and believed it was my duty to fulfill them.”
His bosses never hesitated.
“When Aaron came to see us and suggested he wanted to serve his country, there was only one response, and that was ‘of course,’” said Peter Riley, general counsel for the Howard Hughes Company, who was joined in his support of Grodin by the company’s president, Grant Herlitz, and its CEO, David Weinreb. “We think this is so important and we’re only too happy to make sure he can do this meaningful service. We support our country, our troops and our employee. The passion he has for this dream is contagious.”
Grodin’s response to his employer’s support was to nominate it for the Patriot and Above and Beyond awards, both of which were accepted by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense organization.
With lifelong dreams of serving his country and becoming an attorney, the family joke is that he’d be a natural — one to always argue a point as a child.
“I’ve always thought the law was interesting, but I’ve also always been inspired by my family,” said Grodin, who expects his rank to rise to captain later this fall. “I wanted to do it all, and here I am.”