Lawrence Pickett grew up in a military family, and joined ROTC in college. Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the Infantry. He served in Iraq during Desert Shield-Desert Storm in 1990-1991, then left active duty in 1994. Pickett later joined the U.S. Army Reserves, serving in the 308th Civil Affairs Brigade. He deployed to Iraq with that unit in 2003, and returned to Iraq in 2006, performing Civil Affairs duties in Baghdad. In 2008-2009 he served in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan as part of a Provisional Reconstruction Team.