WASHINGTON — Togo West Jr., who served as both Army secretary and Veterans Affairs secretary under former President Bill Clinton, died suddenly last week at the age of 75.
West was the second African American to serve in both jobs. He was a longtime fixture in Washington, D.C. defense and veterans circles, holding a number of high-ranking permanent appointments and temporary posts on investigative commissions.
West’s daughter told The Washington Post that he died of a heart attack during a cruise in the Caribbean. He was a North Carolina native who graduated from Howard University Law School before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.
He served in a variety of posts in former President Jimmy Carter’s administration and returned to government in 1993 when Clinton was elected. He was nominated to the top civilian Army post after his predecessor, acting Secretary John Shannon, was charged with shoplifting and forced to resign.
His tenure there included overseeing a controversial drawdown of Army end strength and investigations into sexual abuse of female recruits at a series of bases.