Defense Secretary Released From Hospital After Secret Stay

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Monday after spending more than two weeks recovering from an infection following prostate surgery, NBC News reported.

Secretary Austin was treated for prostate cancer in late December and returned to the hospital on January 1 suffering from a urinary tract infection. He was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit the following day where tests showed abdominal fluid obstructing his small intestines. Doctors inserted a tube through Austin’s nose to drain the fluid.

Austin’s illness sparked controversy when it was learned that the secretary kept his hospitalization secret from Congress, Pentagon officials, and even the White House.

The Defense Department did not notify the president that the secretary was hospitalized until January 4. Even Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, Austin’s second-in-command, was not informed for three days by which time, she was on vacation in Puerto Rico.

In light of the controversy, the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General has opened a review of the matter. Additionally, the House Armed Services Committee has initiated a formal investigation.

In a statement following his release, the secretary expressed his thanks to the medical team at Walter Reed who provided him with “excellent care.”

Secretary Austin said he would perform his duties from home as he continues his recovery, adding that he looked forward to returning to the Pentagon “as quickly as possible.”

According to the doctors in charge of Austin’s treatment, the secretary “was expected to make a full recovery.”

Last Tuesday, the redacted audio from the 911 call placed from Austin’s Fairfax County, Virginia home on New Year’s Day was released.

In the audio, the caller requests an ambulance and asks the dispatcher to inform the paramedics not to use “lights and sirens” when they arrive, explaining, “We’re trying to remain a little subtle.”