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SECDEF Austin hospitalized again; receives treatment for bladder issues

Then-Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd J. Austin III before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. Jan. 19, 2021. (EJ Hersom/DOD)
February 14, 2024

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, 70, received treatment for bladder issues on Monday after once again being admitted to the hospital. He was later discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to recover at home. He has fully resumed his duties as defense secretary and is expected to continue to participate in meetings remotely.

According to a statement released by the Pentagon, Austin is expected to be able to return to work in office later this week.

Dr. John Maddox, Trauma Medical Director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, Director of the Center for Prostate Disease Research at the Murtha Cancer Center, clarified that the hospitalization was not related to Austin’s prior cancer diagnosis in the statement, saying, “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 February 12. He remained in good condition throughout and no longer needed critical care monitoring on the morning of Feb. 13. The bladder issue was not related to his cancer diagnosis and will have no effect on his cancer prognosis.” 

READ MORE: US Defense Secretary Austin apologizes for handling of cancer and hospitalization

Austin was scheduled to fly to Brussels this week to attend a Ukraine Defense Contract Group Meeting, along with Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. C.Q. Brown, to discuss support for Kyiv. Following his return to the hospital this week, the meeting is now planned to be held virtually. The latest developments in Congress that directly affect U.S. aid to Ukraine are expected to be topics of discussion. 

Last week, a measure that would have allowed the U.S. to provide more arms assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan was struck down in Congress. Contention arose surrounding border and national security issues, which resulted in the bill’s rejection.

The Senate, however, approved a revised bill on February 13 that would allow $60 billion in funding to Ukraine. According to France 24, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who was vocal in his opposition to the previous bill, continues to be opposed to the revision.

“The Senate did the right thing last week by rejecting the Ukraine-Taiwan-Gaza-Israel-Immigration legislation due to its insufficient border provisions, and it should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions,” Johnson said. “ Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters.”