Military Wiki
Togo D. West, Jr.
3rd United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs

In office
May 5, 1998 – July 10, 2000
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Jesse Brown
Succeeded by Hershel W. Gober (acting)
Personal details
Born June 21, 1942(1942-06-21) (age 80)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Howard University
Military service
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1965 - 1973
Unit Judge Advocate General's Corps
Awards Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal

Togo Dennis West, Jr. (born June 21, 1942) is an American attorney and public official who was the third person to occupy the post of Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He was nominated by President Bill Clinton on January 27, 1998, during Clinton's second term, and was confirmed by the Senate on May 5, 1998. He had previously served as Secretary of the Army from 1993 to 1997. He was the second African American to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Personal life

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. He subsequently entered Howard University, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1965. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Howard University School of Law in 1968, receiving cum laude honors and graduating first in his class. While a freshman at Howard University, he became a brother of Zeta Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. West is 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]

West is a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, the organization's governing body.[2] 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 previously served as the President of the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.


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. He was in the Army Field Artillery Corps from 1965–68 and the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps from 1969-73. 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 of the Navy (1977–1979), Special Assistant to the Secretary and to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (1979), and General Counsel of the Department of Defense (1980–1981). As the Secretary of the Army, West weighed in on the Aberdeen scandal, prompting 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.[3]

Since leaving the government, West has practiced law and has served as president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington-based think tank focused on issues of concern to minorities.[4] He is also a strong supporter of and past board member of the Mount Vernon preservation society.

On November 19, 2009, it was announced by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that former Secretary West and former Chief of Naval Operations retired Admiral Vernon Clark would lead the departments investigation into the Fort Hood massacre. The report was issued in January 2010.


External links

Government offices
Preceded by
E. Grey Lewis
General Counsel of the Navy
April 22, 1977 – January 13, 1979
Succeeded by
Coleman Hicks
Preceded by
Michael P.W. Stone
Secretary of the Army
1993 – 1997
Succeeded by
Louis Caldera
Preceded by
Jesse Brown
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
1998 – 2000
Succeeded by
Hershel W. Gober

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