Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s plans for an overseas trip were abruptly canceled following his hospitalization for a non-surgical procedure to address an “emergent bladder issue,” according to a statement from his doctors. The procedure, conducted under general anesthesia on Monday, was prompted by concerns related to Austin’s ongoing health condition, which includes a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalization, his third since being diagnosed with prostate cancer in December, raised questions about the nature of his medical treatment and its connection to his prior surgery. While Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder did not provide specific details about the procedure, he confirmed that Austin’s hospital stay was not expected to be prolonged, and he was anticipated to resume his duties promptly.
The unexpected development led to the cancellation of Austin’s scheduled trip to Brussels, where he was set to attend meetings related to the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and NATO defense ministers. Instead, the meetings will now be conducted virtually in light of Austin’s medical circumstances.
Ryder’s statements emphasized Austin’s expected full recovery, despite the need for ongoing physical therapy to address lingering leg pain associated with his cancer diagnosis. The decision to transfer Austin’s responsibilities to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks during his hospitalization was made in accordance with established protocols.
Austin’s health challenges have drawn attention in recent weeks, particularly following his admission to the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. This latest hospitalization follows previous complications from his prostate cancer surgery, which included a urinary tract infection and intestinal issues.
The handling of Austin’s medical condition has faced scrutiny, with President Joe Biden expressing disappointment over the delayed notification of his hospitalization in January. Austin publicly acknowledged his responsibility for the oversight, apologizing for not informing Biden and the public sooner.
Despite the challenges, Austin remains committed to his duties as Defense Secretary, acknowledging the impact of his health struggles on himself and the broader community, particularly within the Black community. Internal reviews and investigations are ongoing to address the circumstances surrounding his medical treatment and communication regarding his health issues.