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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 2, 1997
                           OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS 

The President today announced the appointment of Togo D. West, Jr., as Acting Secretary of Veterans' Affairs; the appointment will be effective January 2, 1998. Mr. West will be nominated as Secretary after the U.S. Senate reconvenes in January, 1998.

Mr. West, of the District of Columbia, is currently Secretary of the Army, a position he has held since 1993. He first joined the Federal Government as a legal intern with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the summer of 1967, and then returned to Federal employment in 1968, when he accepted a judicial clerkship in the Southern District of New York. Mr. West was initially commissioned as a Field Artillery officer in 1965. He was then commissioned in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps in 1969. He is an Honor Graduate of the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course. Mr. West served with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) until 1973. He then joined the Department of Justice as Associate Deputy Attorney General in 1975, and was appointed to serve as the Department of the Navy's General Counsel in 1977, a position he held until 1979. He also served as the Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1979 to 1980, and was appointed General Counsel of the Department of Defense in January, 1980.

For his military service, Mr. West was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal, and for his public service, he was awarded the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Mr. West is an Eagle Scout and has been accorded the additional rank of Distinguished Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. West received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University and a J.D. from the same university, graduating cum laude.

The Secretary of Veterans' Affairs is responsible for maintaining a nationwide system of health-care services, benefits programs and national cemeteries for America's 26 million veterans. The Department of Veterans' Affairs, the second largest federal agency, was established as an executive department by the Department of Veterans' Affairs Acts. The Department is comprised of three organizations that administer programs to benefit veterans and their families: the Veterans' Health Administration, the Veteran Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery System. The Department employs close to 235,000 people at VA medical centers, clinics, benefits offices, and national cemeteries throughout the country.