Togo West Jr. was a high-ranking black official in the administration of former President Bill Clinton. West served as both the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veteran Affairs in the ’90’s. He was the second African American to hold the position of Secretary of Veteran Affairs.
West was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1942. After completing high school, he attended Howard University and Howard University School of law. He obtained his undergraduate and a law degree.
After law school, West joined the Army and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corp. He went on to practice law before President Gerald Ford appointed him an Associate Deputy Attorney General. This would lead to several appointments of a legal and military nature, serving under President Jimmy Carter as the General Counsel of the Navy, and General Counsel of the Department of Defense.
He was nominated in 1993 by President Clinton as the Army Secretary and made his mark by investigating widespread allegations of sexual harassment in the branch. He was later nominated again by President Clinton for the Veteran Affairs Secretary. After leaving the Veteran Affairs post, West went back into private practice and joined several boards before retiring. He was on a vacation this past March in the islands when he suffered a heart attack. Togo D. West died on March 8, 2018.