Defense Secretary Austin discharged from hospital after secret medical treatment; remote operations planned for recovery

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin | Credits: Getty Images
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin | Credits: Getty Images

United States: Secretary Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center today following a consultation with medical personnel. The Secretary is still recovering well, and physicians have advised him to rest and conduct his tasks remotely for a while before returning full-time to the Pentagon. He has complete access to the needed secure communication capabilities.

Medical Secrecy

On December 22, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who’s 70 years old, was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. His hospitalization was not reported until four days later, and the Pentagon did not explain why he was receiving treatment until January 9.

Statement from Austin

According to the report by Reuters, Austin said in a statement regarding his release. “I’m grateful for the excellent care I received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and want to thank the outstanding doctors and nursing staff for their professionalism and superb support. I am also thankful and appreciative of all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery.”

Medical Details 

Doctors at Walter Reed said the Pentagon chief had received tests and non-surgical care to address issues such as leg pain and would not require more cancer treatment.

“Secretary Austin’s prostate cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent. He has no planned further treatment for his cancer other than regular post-prostatectomy surveillance,” his doctors said in a statement released by the Pentagon.

Remote Operations and Recovery

Austin will operate remotely, with access to secure communication capabilities, before returning to the Pentagon, according to the statement.

President Joe Biden said Friday that he had faith in Austin despite what he said was a failure of judgment by the Pentagon chief on his secret hospitalization.

Austin’s omission to notify Biden that he was in the hospital prompted criticism from lawmakers and took the White House off guard.

The Defense Department’s inspector general’s office announced on Thursday that it will conduct an assessment of Austin’s hospitalization this month.

John Kirby’s Statement

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized per doctors’ orders, but he is “actively involved and engaged,” according to national security spokeswoman John Kirby.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin | Credits: AP Photo

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Kirby said that Austin participated in negotiations about strikes on Iran-allied Houthi insurgents in Yemen many days ago.

“It’s also important for people to remember that the cabinet officials don’t have to sit and talk every single day to make every decision,” he said. “A lot of the work that gets done in national security is done at the staff level.”