Pentagon: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released from hospital, resumes duties

Lloyd Austin

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Tuesday, Pentagon officials said.

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Austin, 70, has resumed his full duties, according to The Associated Press.

According to a news release from the Department of Defense, Austin is “recovering well” and resumed his duties at 5 p.m. EST. The White House, Congress, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Charles Q. Brown, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have 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,” the Department of Defense said in its release. “He has full access to the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties.”

Austin is expected on Wednesday to host a virtual monthly meeting of approximately 50 countries to coordinate military aid for Ukraine, the AP reported.

Austin was taken to Walter Reed on Sunday for symptoms suggesting an “emergent bladder issue,” a Pentagon spokesperson said.

In a statement, Dr. John Maddox, the hospital’s trauma director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, director of the Center for Prostate Disease Research at Walter Reed, issued a joint statement on Tuesday.

“Secretary Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Feb. 11 with discomfort and concern from a bladder issue related to his December 2023 prostate cancer surgery.  His condition indicated a need for close monitoring by the critical care team and supportive care,” the statement read. “His diagnostic evaluation identified the cause of his bladder issue and it was corrected with non-surgical procedures on Feb. 12.

“He remained in good condition throughout and no longer needed critical care monitoring on the morning of Feb. 13.  He progressed well and was discharged to his home today.  He is anticipated to continue his full recovery.”

Doctors said the bladder issue was not related to his cancer diagnosis.

Austin returned to the hospital after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, according to the AP. He stayed in the hospital for about two weeks after complications from a prostatectomy. Doctors said that “his cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent.”

Austin was originally released from the hospital on Jan. 15 after the prostate diagnosis and had been working at his house during his recovery before his latest hospitalization, CNN reported.

Austin was criticized last month when he was hospitalized and kept it a secret from top administration officials, including President Joe Biden, The New York Times reported. Other members of the administration, including the secretary of state, the national security adviser and senior officials in the Pentagon, were also kept in the dark, according to the newspaper.

Austin also had not told Biden that he had undergone the original surgery in December, the Times reported.

Austin had been scheduled to travel to a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group this week in Brussels, Belgium, according to CBS News. The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Julie Smith, will represent Austin at that meeting, the AP reported.

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