Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin remains hospitalized with mystery illness; DoD remains mum on release


U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin has been hospitalized since the first day of 2024, and while Pentagon officials have not said when he will be released, they continue to avoid saying why he went to the hospital in the first place.

Austin was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Monday, for what Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder described as complications from an elective medical procedure.

On Sunday, Ryder told Fox News that Austin had an elective medical procedure at Walter Reed on Dec. 22, 2023. Austin was on leave at the time of the procedure, and he returned home the next day.

But on Jan. 1, he started experiencing “severe pain,” and was taken back to Walter Reed and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

DOD SECOND IN COMMAND TOLD OF AUSTIN’S HOSPITALIZATION 2 DAYS AFTER TAKING OVER SOME OF HIS DUTIES

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a plenary session at the 19th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue, Asias annual defense and security forum, in Singapore, Saturday, June 11, 2022.  (AP Photo/Danial Hakim)

Ryder said Austin was placed in the ICU to ensure immediate access to his medical needs, but he remained there, in part, because of privacy and hospital space considerations.

Ryder told Fox News he could not provide additional information about Austin’s ailments for privacy reasons.

On Friday, Austin resumed his duties from the hospital, and according to Ryder, he is recovering well and is in good spirits.

DEFENSE SECRETARY AUSTIN HOSPITALIZED FOLLOWING SURGERY COMPLICATIONS

Walter Reed

This photo taken 09 July 2001 shows front facade of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.  (EMILIE SOMMER/AFP via Getty Images)

“Since resuming his duties on Friday evening, the Secretary has received operational updates and has provided necessary guidance to his team,” Ryder said. “He has full access to required communications capabilities and continues to monitor DoD’s day-to-day operations worldwide.”

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 to when Austin will be released from the hospital, Ryder noted there is no specific date. He was also unable to provide information on whether Austin will be doing in-person press briefings over the next week.



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