Defense Secretary Released From Walter Reed Following Secret Hospitalization

Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin
Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin (Getty Images)
January 15, 2024

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday following his controversial hospitalization, of which the public and President Joe Biden were unaware for days.

"The Secretary continues to recover well and, on the advice of doctors, will recuperate and perform his duties remotely for a period of time before returning full-time to the Pentagon. He has full access to required secure communications capabilities," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Doctors at the medical center said they expect Austin to make a full recovery and that Austin has no further planned procedures for his prostate cancer.

"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," Austin said in a separate statement. "I also am thankful and appreciative for all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery. Now, as I continue to recuperate and perform my duties from home, I'm eager to fully recover and return as quickly as possible to the Pentagon."

Austin checked into the hospital on New Year's Day after he experienced complications from what the Pentagon said was an elective medical procedure he underwent in December. President Joe Biden was unaware of Austin's condition until three days after he was admitted, and the Pentagon disclosed his status to the public a day later. The administration last week said Biden would not fire Austin over the lack of communication about his status.

Doctors at Walter Reed also revealed last week that Austin's December procedure was to treat prostate cancer. Austin returned to the hospital after experiencing complications from the initial procedure, including a urinary tract infection and a collection of fluid in his abdomen that impaired the function of his intestines.

Republicans had called for Austin's resignation, and, following the doctors' revelation, Rep. Chris Deluzio of Pennsylvania became the first Democrat to suggest Austin step down.

"I have lost trust in Secretary Lloyd Austin’s leadership of the Defense Department due to the lack of transparency about his recent medical treatment and its impact on the continuity of the chain of command," said Deluzio, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.