Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was once again admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, this time for an "emergent bladder issue," according to the Pentagon. In the last few hours, the Pentagon reported that Austin was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit late Sunday night.
According to information provided by the Pentagon Press Secretary, Patrick S. Ryder, Austin was taken to the health center around 2:20 p.m. this Sunday by his security team.
Ryder stressed that the secretary of defense will continue to fulfill the functions and duties of his position from Walter Reed but noted that the undersecretary is prepared to assume them if necessary. "Secretary Austin traveled to the hospital with the unclassified and classified communications systems necessary to perform his duties," Ryder stated. He clarified that it is still too early to determine whether the secretary of defense will be able to meet the travel commitments he had scheduled for next week.
It should be recalled that Austin was expected to leave on Tuesday for Brussels to participate in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Wednesday and the NATO Defense Ministerial Conference on Thursday.
Austin has been facing serious health problems since December, when he was hospitalized at the same medical center for prostate cancer. The defense secretary underwent surgery and, a week later, developed an infection that led to him being readmitted to the hospital. This episode generated controversy since neither his hospitalization nor diagnosis were reported to President Biden or other senior officials until several days later.
Austin acknowledged his mistake during a press conference earlier this month. "I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis. I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people," he said. But despite this, Congress has indicated that the secretary's poor decision implied a violation of his oath.
"Sec. Austin has violated his oath of office time and time again, and has jeopardized the lives of the American people. (…) This dishonesty seems to be a repeated pattern for the Secretary as he once again lied to our military and the American people about his health last week," said Congressman Matt Rosendale.