Lloyd Austin Released From Hospital

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III participates in a bilateral exchange with Djiboutian Minister of Defense Hassan Omar Mohamed Bourhan at the Djiboutian Air Force Base in Djibouti, Djibouti, Sept. 24, 2023. Austin met with Djiboutian officials to discuss ongoing military cooperation, regional security challenges, and opportunities for further collaboration. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was discharged from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, the Pentagon said in a statement, after the secretary was admitted on Sunday to deal with what was called an “emergent bladder issue.”

Austin had transferred his duties to his deputy while he underwent a non-surgical procedure to remedy the ailment, which doctors confirmed in the statement Tuesday was related to his Dec. 22 prostate cancer surgery. He resumed his duties at 5 p.m. and will host a regularly-occurring meeting of defense ministers to discuss aid efforts for Ukraine virtually from home, according to statements.

Austin is recovering well, the statement said. The White House, Congress, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C. Q. Brown have all been notified.

“On the advice of his doctors, Secretary Austin will recuperate and perform his duties remotely from home for a period before returning to work at the Pentagon later this week. He has full access to the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties,” according to the statement.

The Pentagon previously did not say whether the latest hospital stay was related to Austin’s prostate cancer surgery, and Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder had stated the problem was not related to Austin’s cancer treatment in a briefing on Monday. He could not add whether the problem was connected to the complications that sent Austin to the hospital in an ambulance on Jan. 1.

One of Austin’s security detail took him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Feb. 11 as doctors recognized “discomfort and concern” from a bladder issue, the Pentagon said.

“His condition indicated a need for close monitoring by the critical care team and supportive care. His diagnostic evaluation identified the cause of his bladder issue and it was corrected with non-surgical procedures on Feb. 12,” the doctors, John Maddox and Gregory Chesnut, said in the statement.

Austin no longer required critical care by Tuesday morning and is anticipated to make a full recovery. The bladder issue was not related to Austin’s actual cancer diagnosis, and his recover prognosis remains “excellent,” the doctors said.

At around 5 p.m. on Sunday, Austin transferred his authorities as secretary to his deputy, Hicks, the Pentagon previously said. Brown, the White House staff and other officials had been notified within hours, a deliberate divergence from the way Austin handled his earlier hospitalizations in December and January.

In January, Austin’s physicians had placed him in the Intensive Care Unit to treat a urinary tract infection, but he received only non-surgical care and never underwent general anesthesia. However, neither Hicks nor the White House and other key officials learned that Austin was in the hospital until at least two days later.

Neither his prostate cancer diagnosis nor the initial treatment in December were disclosed to the president.

Austin had just returned to work in the Pentagon on Jan. 29 after weeks of recovery at his home in Virginia since his discharge from Walter Reed on Jan. 15.

Micaela Burrow on February 13, 2024

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