U.S. Defense Secretary Is Released From the Hospital After 2 Weeks

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III was released from the hospital on Monday, after a two-week stay for complications from prostate cancer surgery that he had kept secret from the White House for several days, the Pentagon announced.

Mr. Austin, 70, on the advice of his doctors, will continue to recuperate and perform his duties from home before returning full time to the Pentagon, the Defense Department said in a statement on Monday.

“I’m grateful for the excellent care I received at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and want to thank the outstanding doctors and nursing staff for their professionalism and superb support,” Mr. Austin said in a separate statement on Monday. “I also am thankful and appreciative for all the well wishes I received for a speedy recovery.”

Neither statement mentioned the uproar that Mr. Austin’s hospitalization had caused, damaging his credibility with President Biden and Congress, and raising questions about the overall competence of his department in dealing with the self-made crisis. All of that is now the subject of a Defense Department investigation by the inspector general.

The defense secretary, a retired four-star Army general, is fiercely private and has been guarded about discussing his medical issues.

Mr. Austin was in severe pain and rushed by ambulance to Walter Reed on Jan. 1. He was put in intensive care after complications from a surgery he underwent on Dec. 22 to remove his prostate. But several top Pentagon officials did not learn of the secretary’s hospitalization until the next day, Jan. 2. The White House was not notified until Jan. 4, a major breach of protocol at the highest national security levels. Further complicating matters, neither Pentagon nor White House officials learned until last Tuesday that Mr. Austin had been diagnosed with cancer in early December.

Two of Mr. Austin’s physicians at Walter Reed, Dr. John Maddox, the trauma medical director, and Dr. Gregory Chesnut, the director of the center for prostate disease research, said in the Pentagon statement that the secretary “progressed well throughout his stay and his strength is rebounding.”

“He underwent a series of medical tests and evaluations and received nonsurgical care during his stay to address his medical needs, to include resolving some lingering leg pains,” the doctors added, noting that he will undergo physical therapy, will have periodic post-surgery checkups and is expected to make a full recovery.

“Secretary Austin’s prostate cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent,” the doctors said.

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