Former SEAL Kevin Lacz discusses life before war in Veterans Day speech

Kevin Lacz explains physical risk-taking at his book signing event at the Student Center Ballroom Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. “I wanted to be better at the position than when I showed up,” Lacz said, referring to his prior work ethic. 

Lyric Aquino

Over 100 people gathered in the Student Center Ballroom on Wednesday to listen to the decorated Navy SEAL, author and movie star, Kevin Lacz.

Lacz served two tours in the Iraq War with SEAL Team 3. He is popularly known for his involvement in Chris Kyle’s “American Sniper,” both in the book and the movie.

Lacz never imagined that this life would be for him.

“Growing up, I knew I wanted to do something big,” Lacz said. “However, my parents wanted me to become a doctor.”

Lacz was the first in his family to go to a four-year institution at James Madison University in Virginia. There, he experienced personal difficulties that led him to join the Navy.

“I took a risk,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen or if I would even like it. I had a terrible GPA and it seemed like college wasn’t the route for me.”

Lacz stated making life decisions needs to involve risk-taking to give each individual their best life.

“Anything is possible. I was a mediocre borderline failing college student with 0.7 grade point average and that all changed. I just wish I would have had this talk sooner,” he said.

David Yakunich, a 32-year-old senior nutrition and dietetics major, attended the event and connected with Lacz on a personal level. A former Army member, Yakunich was able to relate to Lacz in ways many members of the audience were not able to.

“As service members, we can all connect with one another regardless of what branch you served in,” he said. “There’s that common bond and what he spoke about reciprocated my experience.”

Yakunich was able to pull out several different messages from the evening with Lacz.

“He’s seen a lot. I can’t imagine what he’s seen,” Yakunich said. “Yet he’s able to convey positivity, optimism, and confidence. If someone can see what he has and turn out the way he did, that very motivating.”

Lauren Bodenschatz, a freshman visual communication design major, hopes this event will bring her closer with her grandfather, and give her a better understanding of his time in the service.

“My grandfather was a Marine,” she said. “We’re very close and I’m hoping that after tonight I’ll be able to understand his time in the service a little better. I’ll understand his military terms and lifestyle.”

Bodenschatz also hopes that the event will bring her new skills as well.

“I’m hoping that this will give me critical thinking and evaluating skills for tough situations,” she said.

Abdoulaye Fall, a doctorate student for higher administration, was hoping to gain knew knowledge and tactics in how to work with his students and scholars in risk taking that benefits them.

“I hope I can apply this to my career and what my students want and need,” Fall said.

Lacz stressed that his talk can be applied to all people in all walks of life and to keep listening past mistakes and success in order to benefit your future.

“You have to listen to your life experiences,” Lacz said. “Learn from them, embrace them, and prepare yourself for the next one.”

Lyric Aquino is a features correspondent. Contact her at [email protected].