Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin addresses media

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin takes questions from media for first time since hospitalization


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Sunday afternoon following symptoms of an “emergent bladder issue,” according to the Pentagon. He has since transferred his duties to his deputy.

“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,” Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement Sunday afternoon. 

Ryder initially reported that Austin would retain his duties as defense secretary while in the hospital. However, Ryder said Sunday evening that Austin had “transferred the functions and duties of the office” to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. 

The initial statement said that Hicks, along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House, and Congress were notified. 

A White House official confirmed Sunday evening that the Office of the Secretary of Defense had informed the White House and National Security Council about Austin’s hospitalization. The official directed further questions about Austin’s health to the Pentagon.

Earlier this year, Austin was hospitalized for two weeks following complications related to treatment for prostate cancer. He returned to work in-person at the Pentagon at the end of January, and in a press conference said he was still recovering. 

Austin is scheduled to go to a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group this week in Brussels, Belgium, in what would be his first overseas trip since his initial hospitalization. 

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