Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Released From Hospital: Pentagon

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Released From Hospital: Pentagon
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Feb. 1, 2024. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was discharged from critical care and returned to his home on Feb. 13, according to the Pentagon.

Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said the defense secretary responded positively to nonsurgical procedures conducted on Feb. 12.

Mr. Austin remained in “good condition” throughout his hospitalization and no longer needed critical care as of the morning of Feb. 13, according to a news release.

“He progressed well and was discharged to his home today. He is anticipated to continue his full recovery,” said Dr. John Maddox and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, directors of Trauma Medical and the Center for Prostate Disease Research at the hospital, respectively.

The defense secretary returned to his duties at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the Pentagon stated.

“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 a news release.

Mr. Austin was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Feb. 11 for emergency care related to an emergent bladder issue following his December 2023 prostate cancer surgery.

“The bladder issue was not related to his cancer diagnosis and will have no effect on his excellent cancer prognosis,” according to the release.

Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh spoke with reporters about the situation earlier on Feb. 13.

Ms. Singh said that Mr. Austin would participate virtually at a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group and NATO defense ministerial later in the week.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks remains invested with Mr. Austin’s authorities and duties. It is unclear if Ms. Hicks is the acting Secretary of Defense for the purposes of presidential succession, however.

Ms. Hicks, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House, and Congress have been notified about Mr. Austin’s discharge from the hospital, according to the Pentagon.

Austin’s Health Scrutinized

Mr. Austin has come under fire by Democrats and Republicans alike for not communicating his cancer diagnosis with the president, as well as not being transparent about his fitness to carry out his duties.

Mr. Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December and underwent a prostatectomy on Dec. 22, 2023. He was rushed to the hospital again for emergency surgery due to complications at the end of the month.

The White House wasn’t told of the hospitalization until Jan. 4, however. Congress wasn’t notified of the situation until Jan. 5, and the White House didn’t learn of the cancer diagnosis until Jan. 9.

The incident is currently being investigated by the Pentagon Inspector General.

“The objective of the review is to examine the roles, processes, procedures, responsibilities, and actions” related to the secretary of defense’s hospitalization, according to a memo published by the inspector general’s office.

The inspector general will also seek to “assess whether the DoD’s policies and procedures are sufficient to ensure timely and appropriate notifications and the effective transition of authorities as may be warranted due to health-based or other unavailability of senior leadership.”

Following the incident, the White House issued a memorandum mandating that Cabinet heads inform the president when they are unable to perform their duties or are delegating them for another reason.

Mr. Austin notified the White House of his latest emergency before being transported to the hospital on Sunday, at which time he transferred his authorities to Ms. Hicks.

The Pentagon is expected to release a doctor’s report later in the day which will outline the causes of the emergent bladder issue and statement of the secretary’s overall health.

From The Epoch Times

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