Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce dinner to feature former SEAL

Photo provided by Simon & Schuster Kevin Lacz, actor, author, former Navy SEAL and businessman, will be the keynote speaker at the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner March 12.

MARIETTA — The keynote speaker for the 103rd Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner is an actor, author, businessman, physicians assistant and former Navy SEAL.

Kevin Lacz became nationally known through his association with Chris Kyle, whose life was portrayed in the Clint Eastwood-directed film “American Sniper.” Bradley Cooper played the renowned military figure, and Lacz played himself in a supporting role in the Oscar-winning movie.

The dinner will be held March 12, starting at 5 p.m. in the Dylan Baudo Recreation Center on the Marietta College campus.

Speaking from Florida earlier this week, Lacz, who is part of the Simon & Schuster publishing speakers group, said he’s spoken to chamber groups before. His message goes well beyond the military experience, as a member of SEAL Team 3, for which he is best known.

Lacz said he joined the Navy shortly after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, an event that affected him personally because the father of a good friend died there.

“I joined when I was 20 and came out when I was 28. I came in as a directionless college student. I learned to focus on the things I could control, and I knew if I brought a game to the table every day I could succeed,” he said. “My goal was to become a SEAL and go to combat. I learned to be focused because you have to when you go to war.”

He drew on that attitude to confront his biggest challenge, which he said was not being involved in the SEAL team but rather determining what to do with his life after leaving the Navy.

“I was fortunate because I had gone to the special ops combat medic school and had lots of hands-on experience” in treating injuries and other medical problems in combat, he said. “I went to the University of Connecticut for undergrad physician assistant studies, and I wanted something to stimulate me and use my life experience, and that was political science.”

The political science studies, he said, “smoothed off my rough edges, enabling me to speak better in public, and I was able to instill some of my experiences in my classmates.”

Since then, he has acted in “American Sniper,” written a book, “The Last Punisher,” an account of his tour in Iraq as a sniper with SEAL Team 3, published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster, established a business, Lifestyle and Performance Medicine, and founded with his wife a charity for injured veterans, Hunting for Healing.

He is also a speaker in demand.

“I thoroughly enjoy speaking and getting to meet people I otherwise wouldn’t cross paths with,” he said.

His message is based on his life experiences, told from the perspective of “a person who joined the SEALS but is not defined by that, who is now a small-business owner and a member of the community,” he said.

“We lose a lot in personal growth if we don’t challenge ourselves,” he said. “I encourage people to try different avenues, really learn about yourself and how you react … experience things to find out what you’re good at.”

The Iraq experience, he said, taught him the crucial need to analyze what lies ahead.

“Minimize risk while maximizing reward,” he said. “The biggest thing we need to fight is complacency, because if you don’t, you won’t be ready for what’s coming.”

Chamber president Carrie Ankrom said Lacz has been on her list of interesting speakers for a couple of years and she’s glad to see him coming to Marietta.

In addition to his appearance at the annual dinner in March, Ankrom said, Lacz also will use Facetime to interact with the audience at a special screening of “American Sniper” on Thursday at the Peoples Bank Theatre.

“We’re really excited to have him here, and this will be a great reward for all our community members who have gone above and beyond,” she said.

For information on the event, call 740-373-5176.

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If You Go

* What: Marrietta Area Chamber of Commerce 103rd annual dinner

* When: March 12, 5 p.m. social hour, 6:30 p.m. dinner and awards

* Where: Dyson Baudo Recreation Center, Marietta College campus

* Keynote speaker: Kevin Lacz, former member of Navy SEAL Team 3, actor (“American Sniper”), author (“The Last Punisher”), business person (Lifestyle and Performance Medicine), physicians assistant, philanthropist (Hunting for Healing)

* Cost: $60, $480 for a table of eight

* Extra for chamber members: “Red Carpet” viewing of “American Sniper” 7 p.m. Thursday at the Peoples Bank Theatre, doors open at 6 p.m.

* For information: 740-373-5176 or mariettachamber.com

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