Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin has been hospitalized since the first day of 2024, and Pentagon officials have not said when he will be released, but they have not said why he went to the hospital in the first place. He continues to avoid mentioning it.
Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Monday for what Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Rider described as complications from an elective medical procedure.
On Sunday, Ryder told Fox News that Austin underwent an elective medical procedure at Walter Reed on Dec. 22, 2023. Austin was on vacation at the time of the procedure and returned home the next day.
However, on January 1, he began experiencing “severe pain” and was taken back to Walter Reed Hospital, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Pentagon deputy commander announces Austin hospitalized two days after taking over part of mission
Ryder said Austin was placed in the ICU to provide immediate access to his medical needs, but he remained in the ICU in part due to privacy and considerations for hospital space.
Ryder told Fox News that she could not provide additional information about Austin’s illness for privacy reasons.
On Friday, Austin returned to work from the hospital and Ryder says he is recovering well and is in good spirits.
Defense Secretary Austin hospitalized due to surgical complications
“Since resuming his duties Friday night, the Secretary has received operational updates and provided necessary guidance to his team,” Rider said. “He has full access to the necessary communications capabilities and continues to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Department of Defense around the world.”
Ryder added that Austin spoke with President Biden on Saturday and has been in contact with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr., and his senior staff.
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As for when Austin will be released from the hospital, Ryder said there is no specific date. He also could not provide information on whether Austin will hold an in-person press conference next week.