Todd Freiwald graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1988 with a B.A. in History. After graduation, he commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. As an Infantry Officer, he served with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines during Operation Desert Shield.
After the Marine Corps, he accepted an appointment to the United States Secret Service where he served in the Washington Field Office and conducted security advances and investigations ranging from money laundering to threats against the president. He later was transferred to the Vice Presidential Protective Detail where he conducted numerous security advances around the world. In 1999, Mr. Freiwald transferred to the Department of Justice where he conducted investigations and undercover operations, and also supervised law enforcement task forces focusing on criminal organizations. He retired from DOJ in 2016 and started looking for something different.
“I spent 25 years dealing with people who made bad choices because they had no guidance, no direction,” he said. “If I have the opportunity to lead, guide, and mentor, to plan visions of success, of greatness, on the front end, how much easier is it going to be for somebody in law enforcement down the road?”
With that thought in mind, Mr. Freiwald joined the R-MA family as Deputy Commandant in July 2018. He jumped into the position with enthusiasm, helping to create activities such as “Boomer’s Run” that encourage camaraderie among the students and build leadership skills among the cadre. Though his position is focused on discipline, he deliberately chose to work on building a rapport with the cadets when he arrived.
“Even being responsible for the conduct and the discipline piece, I’m not aggressive. I’m not a yeller,” he explained. “It’s important to explain the why—why we do things. Why is standing at attention important? Why is shining your shoes important? When I explain how that’s going to benefit them in life and separate them from the pack when they go in for job interviews or college interviews. Once they understand why we do it, then it makes perfect sense. It’s not just another rule to follow.”
Mr. Freiwald explained that depending on the student’s infraction, he might assign “tours”—physical activity that occurs early in the morning. However, at other times, he might instead assign an essay. “It’s a teaching point,” he said. “There’s two kinds of mistakes, in my book. There’s mistakes where you didn’t know better, so let’s talk about it, let’s learn about it. Let’s figure it out, so we don’t do this in the future. Then there’s mistakes where you did know better. Well, then take the consequences. You knowingly broke the rules. Face the music and try to do better.”
- B.A., Virginia Military Institute