Togo D. West Jr.

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Togo West
3rd United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
In office
May 4, 1998 – July 10, 2000
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byJesse Brown
Succeeded byAnthony Principi
United States Secretary of the Army
In office
November 22, 1993 – May 4, 1998
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byGordon Sullivan (Acting)
Succeeded byMike Walker (Acting)
General Counsel of the Navy
In office
April 22, 1977 – January 13, 1979
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byGrey Lewis
Succeeded byColeman Hicks
Personal details
Togo Dennis West Jr.

(1942-06-21)June 21, 1942
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedMarch 8, 2018(2018-03-08) (aged 75)
Caribbean Sea aboard cruiseliner between Barbados and Puerto Rico
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Gail Berry
Children2 daughters
EducationHoward University (BS, JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1965–1973
UnitArmy Judge Advocate General's Corps
AwardsLegion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal

Togo Dennis West Jr. (June 21, 1942 – March 8, 2018) was an attorney and public official who was the third United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He was picked by President Bill Clinton on January 27, 1998, during Clinton's second term, and was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 5, 1998. Before that, he had served as United States Secretary of the Army under Clinton, from 1993 to 1997. He was the second African American to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Personal life[change | change source]

West was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; there, he became an Eagle Scout with Bronze Palms, and attended Atkins High School (where his parents were teachers), graduating as valedictorian in 1959. After that, he entered Howard University, getting a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1965, and a Juris Doctor in 1968, receiving cum laude honors and graduating first in his class. While a freshman at Howard University, he became a member of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. West is also a member of the Kappa Psi chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. While a student at the Howard University School of Law, West became the managing editor for the Howard Law Journal; he also met Gail Berry, who became his wife. The Wests later had two daughters.

A member of St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, he served as a vestryman and Senior Warden.[1]

He has been named a Distinguished Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America and was awarded the Silver Buffalo Award for his national contributions to America’s youth. He is the President of the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Career[change | change source]

After completing law school and clerking for a federal judge, West entered the United States Army and served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. From his military service, he earned the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal. He subsequently practiced law at the firm of Covington & Burling before being appointed an associate deputy attorney general in the administration of President Gerald Ford. Then, West held several posts in the administration of Jimmy Carter: general counsel to the Navy (1977-1979), special assistant to the secretary and to the deputy secretary of defense (1979), and general counsel to the Department of Defense (1980-1981). As the Secretary of the Army, West commented on the Aberdeen scandal, which prompted stricter enforcement and investigation into the Army's sexual harassment policies.

West returned to private practice in 1981 with the firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler and later worked as senior vice president for government relations of the Northrop Corporation until he became a member of the Clinton administration.[2]

Since leaving the government, West has worked as a lawyer and has served as president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington-based think tank that works on issues that are important to minorities.[3] He is also a strong supporter of and past board member of the Mount Vernon preservation society.

Death[change | change source]

West, Jr. died of a heart attack on March 8, 2018 at the age of 75, while on a cruise traveling between Barbados and Puerto Rico.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Fall 2004: Togo West". Alpha Phi Omega @ VCU. Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Delta Iota Chapter. Archived from the original on 9 February 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  2. "American President: Bill Clinton". Archived from the original on 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  3. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
  4. Togo D. West Jr., Clinton appointee who investigated Army abuses and led veterans affairs, dies at 75
Preceded by
Michael P.W. Stone
United States Secretary of the Army
1993 – 1997
Succeeded by
Louis Caldera
Preceded by
Jesse Brown
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
1998 – 2000
Succeeded by
Hershel W. Gober