Togo D. West Jr.

Togo West
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
In office
May 5, 1998  July 10, 2000
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Hershel Gober (Acting)
Succeeded by Hershel Gober (Acting)
United States Secretary of the Army
In office
November 22, 1993  May 4, 1997
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Gordon Sullivan (Acting)
Succeeded by Mike Walker (Acting)
General Counsel of the Navy
In office
April 22, 1977  January 13, 1979
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Grey Lewis
Succeeded by Coleman Hicks
Personal details
Born Togo Dennis West Jr.
(1942-06-21) June 21, 1942
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Gail Berry
Children 2 daughters
Alma mater Howard University
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1965–1973
Unit Army 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.

Military and government career

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]

Post-government career

Since leaving the government, West has practiced law and served on the boards of various institutions. From 2004-2006, he 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.

West and former Chief of Naval Operations retired Admiral Vernon Clark led the Defense Department's investigation into the Fort Hood massacre, issuing a report in January 2010.[5]

See also


  1. "Fall 2004: Togo West". Alpha Phi Omega @ VCU. Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Delta Iota Chapter. Archived from the original on February 9, 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  2. Boy Scouts of America Annual Report 2011
  3. American President: Bill Clinton
  4. "Togo West". Center for Infrastructure Protection & Homeland Security. George Mason University. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
  5. Bumiller, Elisabeth; Shane, Scott (2010-01-15). "Pentagon Report on Fort Hood Details Failures". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Togo West.
Political offices
Preceded by
Grey Lewis
General Counsel of the Navy
Succeeded by
Coleman Hicks
Preceded by
Gordon Sullivan
United States Secretary of the Army
Succeeded by
Mike Walker
Preceded by
Hershel Gober
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
Hershel Gober
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