Joe Biden Taps Retired General Lloyd Austin As Defense Secretary Nominee — Meet His Wife, Charlene Austin

“He is the person we need in this moment.” - Biden

Charlene Austin YouTube

President-elect Joe Biden is nominating people for his cabinet left and right before his upcoming presidential term, which thankfully starts in less than two months.

In an op-ed for The Atlantic, Biden revealed his top pick for defense secretary, tapping retired general Lloyd Austin for the important position. 

“The fact is, Austin’s many strengths and his intimate knowledge of the Department of Defense and our government are uniquely matched to the challenges and crises we face,” Biden wrote. “He is the person we need in this moment.”


Austin would be the first Black man in history to hold the title. 

Next to every successful man, though, is his equally successful spouse — and Lloyd Austin’s wife of 40 years, Charlene Austin, has been by his side through it all.

Who is Lloyd Austin’s wife, Charlene Austin?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Charlene Austin.

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She’s a Washington D.C. native.

Charlene Austin is originally from Washington D.C., and she attended college at Fayetteville State University, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree.

She then attended grad school at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where she received a Masters of Science degree in Education (Guidance/Counseling). 

Charlene Austin is involved in the military, too.

She’s been married to Lloyd Austin for four decades, so would you expect anything less, considering he’s been in the military for most of his life? 

Charlene Austin is known for her work within the military community, and has served as a federal employee for years.


Some of the titles she’s held include Army Community Service Employment Program Manager, Army Continuing Education Guidance Counselor, and Troop and Family Members Transition Specialist for the Army Career and Alumni Program.

Austin wrote about his wife’s amazing contribution to the military and military families everywhere:

“Since our graduation from the counseling program at Auburn, my wife Charlene and I have pursued careers of service with the United States Army. 

While my focus was on working with the great men and women in the military to protect our nation, Charlene devoted her time and energy to the care and sustainment of military families.”

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She’s won countless awards.

Charlene Austin has won many awards for her involvement in the military, including Woman of Distinction for Jefferson County, NY. She also received the inaugural award for Military Family and Leadership from the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County.

She was also awarded the following distinctions:

“In March 2013, Mrs. Austin was awarded the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award for her contributions to the community and Department of the Army. In April 2016, Mrs. Austin was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the Department of the Army Distinguished Civilian Service decoration medal. 

Other awards have included the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Superior Civilian Service Award, and the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service and several Commanding General’s Awards. She has been an active member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority incorporated, a worldwide public service organization since 1998.”

Lloyd Austin has praised his wife for her military role. 

Austin has no problem admitting that his other half has met and exceeded the challenges the couple’s faced from being in the military most of their lives. 


“Throughout our journey, Charlene served as both a school counselor and an academic / employment counselor in a number of different positions throughout the country. As a member of the Armed Forces, I was transferred to a different assignment every three years,” he wrote.

“Charlene faced the challenge common to all military spouses: changing jobs frequently and wrestling with certification at each new stop,” he continued. 

“Charlene had an additional responsibility of leading family support groups whose ranks were filled with young spouses wrestling with tough issues while their spouses were deployed,” Austin added.


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Olivia Jakiel is an editor and writer who covers celebrity and entertainment news. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her zingers on Twitter