Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is back in the hospital for ’emergent bladder issues’ after prostate caner surgery last month
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, 70, is back in hospital with ‘symptoms suggesting an emerging bladder problem’.
Austin was transported to Walter Reed Medical Center after the symptoms appeared Sunday afternoon.
After facing intense backlash for failing to immediately inform President Joe Biden of his surgery to treat prostate cancer last month, Austin was determined not to make the same mistake twice.
The defense secretary informed his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown, Jr., the White House and Congress of his hospitalization, according to Pentagon press secretary Major Patrick Ryder’s statement.
Austin said earlier this month that his failure to notify Biden immediately was partly due to his instinct to keep his health private and that he was “shaken” by the news of his cancer diagnosis.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin back in hospital with ’emerging bladder problems’
During a press conference earlier this month, Austin said he would immediately notify his deputy and the White House Situation Room if he had a medical problem, which appeared to be the case with his hospital visit on Sunday.
“I directly apologized to President Biden. I told him I’m very sorry I didn’t let him know right away,” Austin said during a Feb. 1 press conference at the Pentagon.
“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis, I should have told my team and the American public,” he added. ‘I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and the American people.’
It was his first time speaking publicly about his medical scare and comes as he tries to recover from the scandal of keeping it a secret.
The health scare comes at a time when the world is embroiled in turmoil, including a war between Ukraine and Russia, between Israel and Hamas and rising tensions between China and Taiwan and Houthis with Yemen’s Sunnis.
Having an absent or incompetent defense secretary could further complicate the American role in all of this.
With Austin’s hospitalization on Sunday, Hicks is prepared to assume the duties of secretary if necessary. However, the DoD secretary is retaining his powers for now, Maj. Gen. Ryder noted.
President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (with a walker) stand during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware of the bodies of three U.S. troops killed in a drone strike in Jordan last month .
DoD Sec. Austin spoke at a press conference at the Pentagon on February 1 where he apologized for not immediately informing President Joe Biden of his diagnosis and surgery for prostate cancer last month.
The retired general said at his press conference this month that his diagnosis with prostate cancer was a ‘gut punch’.
“I was treated for prostate cancer,” he noted. ‘The news shook me and I know it shook so many others, especially in the black community. It was a gut punch.’
“In fact, my first instinct was to keep it private,” the Pentagon chief added. ‘I don’t think it’s news that I’m a pretty private guy. I never like to burden others with my problems.’
‘It’s just not my way. But I learned from this experience that taking this kind of work means losing some of the privacy most of us expect. The American people have a right to know if their leaders are facing health challenges that could affect their ability to perform their duties even temporarily,’ he said.
Major General Ryder’s full statement on Austin’s hospitalization reads:
“Today, at approximately 2:20 p.m., Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggestive of an emerging bladder problem. The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were notified. In addition, White House and Congressional notifications took place.
‘At this time the Secretary retains the functions and duties of his office. The Deputy Secretary is prepared to assume the functions and duties of the Secretary of Defense, if necessary. Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to carry out his duties.
“We will provide an update on Secretary Austin’s condition as soon as possible.”