Melissa entered the United States Navy upon graduating high school. She attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where she became a fluent Russian language speaker. Melissa then became one of the first women approved by the U.S. Navy to fly aboard EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft overseas, conducting reconnaissance and intelligence gathering operations in partnership with our allies. She served her country with honor and distinction as a Russian translator for ten years during the height of the Cold War, and flew covert missions during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 2008 Melissa Melendez was elected to the Lake Elsinore City Council.  She served as Mayor Pro Tem as well as Mayor during her four years in local government. Melissa has distinguished herself throughout the district by tackling some of the most important issues of the day, like fighting for increased government transparency, reducing taxes, and easing the burden on the business community. Melissa is also known to be a tireless advocate for veterans and military families.