OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) has reportedly checked himself into a hospital to deal with rising bouts of depression following a major stroke last spring and lingering ill effects from that incident. The freshman senator checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Thursday, according to his chief of staff, “to receive treatment for clinical depression,” according to CNN.
“On Monday, John was evaluated by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Attending Physician of the United States Congress. Yesterday, Dr. Monahan recommended inpatient care at Walter Reed. John agreed, and he is receiving treatment on a voluntary basis,” Chief of Staff Adam Jentleson noted in a statement, the outlet reported.
Fetterman suffered a major stroke in May. After staying off the campaign trail for a few months, he jumped back in time to engage in some fundraisers and a disastrous debate against his Trump-backed Republican opponent, TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, both of whom were vying for retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat.
Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, noted on Thursday that she is “so proud of him for asking for help,” CNN noted.
“After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs,” she tweeted. “This is a difficult time for our family, so please respect our privacy.”
After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs. pic.twitter.com/SfuwWTSUcG
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) February 16, 2023
In a statement announcing the self-check-in, Fetterman’s chief of staff noted further: “After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself.”
He also stated that Fetterman has experienced depression “off and on” over the course of his life, though the issue “only became severe in recent weeks.”
CNN reported that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed well wishes for Fetterman, acknowledging that his condition must be difficult not only for him but his family as well.
“Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day. I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon. Sending love and support to John, Gisele, and their family,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted.
Happy to hear @SenFettermanPA is getting the help he needs and deserves. Millions of Americans, like John, struggle with depression each day. I am looking forward to seeing him return to the Senate soon. Sending love and support to John, Gisele, and their family.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 16, 2023
BREAKING: John Fetterman checks into hospital for clinical depression.
I feel sorry for the man. Please say a prayer 🙏
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) February 16, 2023
BREAKING: Senator John Fetterman Hospitalized for Depression…
I’m actually starting to feel bad for this dude, he needs to be somewhere trying to get well on all levels..
— Matt Couch (@RealMattCouch) February 16, 2023
Just last week, the senator was rushed to the hospital after “feeling lightheaded,” though his team insists he did not have another stroke, The Washington Post reported at the time.
“He is in good spirits and talking with his staff and family. We will provide more information when we have it,” his communications director, Joe Calvello, said, adding, “initial tests did not show evidence of a new stroke” and that “doctors are running more tests, and John is remaining overnight for observation.”
In November, a Fetterman advisor admitted, after his victory, he would not be able to perform his job as normal, Breitbart news reported.
“Spotted in Senate basement: John Fetterman He didn’t answer when I asked if he’ll be able to wear his hoodie on Senate floor,” Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic said in a tweet that caught the eye of Fetterman advisor Rebecca Katz.
“Two things we need to get out of the way: 1) John Fetterman has a suit and will wear it to the Capitol. 2) He is still recovering from a stroke and has lingering auditory processing challenges. The way Hill reporters are used to yelling questions at Senators will not work here,” she said.
Two things we need to get out of the way:
1) John Fetterman has a suit and will wear it to the Capitol.
2) He is still recovering from a stroke and has lingering auditory processing challenges. The way Hill reporters are used to yelling questions at Senators will not work here. https://t.co/0UCe47d9QC
— Rebecca Katz (@RebeccaKKatz) November 15, 2022
While it was a tough contest for the Senate between Fetterman and Oz, even Fetterman’s hometown newspaper backed his GOP opponent.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said in its endorsement that Oz was the “better bet for Pennsylvania” and cast doubts on Fetterman’s ability to serve as senator due to his recent stroke and his debate performance.
“During Tuesday’s debate, after hundreds of thousands of votes had already been cast, voters finally learned something about where the candidates stood. They learned, among other things, that Mr. Oz opposes federal intervention in abortion rights, and Mr. Fetterman supports the broader Constitutional guarantees provided by the overturned Roe v. Wade decision. They learned Mr. Fetterman supports a federally mandated $15-an-hour minimum wage, and Mr. Oz wants market forces to raise wages. They learned both candidates support fracking. They also learned both men are politicians, as they ducked and dodged questions about why they had changed their minds on fracking,” the editorial board said.
“Neither candidate has experience as a U.S. senator. Given the lack of substance during the campaign, many voters will have to make a leap of faith on Nov. 8. We believe Mr. Oz is the better bet for Pennsylvania,” the board’s op-ed continued.