Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized again with ’emergency issue,’ weeks after cancer treatment

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday afternoon. Austin was exhibiting symptoms of an “emergent bladder issue,” according to the Pentagon.

“Today, at approximately 2:20 pm, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be seen for symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” the Pentagon said in a press release. “The Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been notified. Additionally, White House and Congressional notifications have occurred.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder initially said Austin would retain his duties as secretary of defense while in the hospital. However, Ryder said on Sunday night that Austin had “transferred the functions and duties of the office” to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

Austin is scheduled to make his first overseas trip since his initial hospitalization this week.

Austin was scheduled to depart on Tuesday for Brussels to hold a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. Austin was also scheduled to attend a regular meeting of NATO defense ministers.

It was not clear if those plans were canceled because of the hospitalization.

Sunday’s announcement came just weeks after his first hospitalization.

Austin previously underwent a surgical procedure for prostate cancer on Dec. 22. However, he suffered from a urinary tract infection and serious intestinal complications.

Austin was hospitalized on Jan. 1, but President Joe Biden was unaware of the concerning medical situation for three days.

Austin had transferred his authority to his deputy the day after he was admitted to the hospital.

The secrecy of Austin’s hospitalization was widely criticized.

Austin returned to in-person work at the Pentagon at the end of January.

“We did not handle this right and I did not handle this right,” Austin admitted during a press conference earlier this month.

“I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis,” he added. “I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility.”

Austin defended himself by saying he is a “pretty private guy.”

“I never like burdening others with my problems,” he said. “It’s just not my way.”

Austin said he directly apologized to President Biden for not informing his administration about his hospitalization, and he was “deeply sorry.”

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