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Defense Sec. Austin returns to Walter Reed for apparent medical issue

(The Hill) — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday afternoon for an apparent medical issue, the Pentagon announced Sunday.

Austin was transported by his security detail to Walter Reed around 2:20 p.m. on Sunday after experiencing symptoms “suggesting an emergent bladder issue,” Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement Sunday.

The deputy secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff were notified and notifications were sent to those in The White House and Congress, Ryder added.

Austin is retaining his functions and duties of the office, while the deputy secretary is prepared should they need to assume duties, per Ryder’s statement.

Austin returned to the Pentagon late last month after a weeks-long hospitalization in early January.

Austin was hospitalized on Jan. 1 for an infection stemming from a Dec. 22 surgery for prostate cancer. The Defense Department said Austin conducted “his duties from home since his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Jan. 15.” 

His hospitalization sparked controversy on Capitol Hill after lawmakers learned the White House and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks were not made aware of his hospitalization until Jan. 4. Austin did not reveal his prostate cancer diagnosis until Jan. 9, nearly a month after an early December health screening discovered the cancer. 

The incident prompted the Pentagon to launch a 30-day internal review of policies and procedures.

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