Buchanan Gets Another Win!

December 27, 2021

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today announced that his proposal to implement a series of sweeping new military training reforms has been signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This marks Buchanan’s 24th legislative initiative to be signed into law since he first came to Congress in 2007.

Buchanan has been a leading advocate in Congress for reforming our current training procedures and improving emergency response capabilities after the tragic death of Army Specialist Nicholas Panipinto of Bradenton. Panipinto died in a vehicle training accident in South Korea in 2019.

“The death of Specialist Panipinto is a tragedy that never should have happened,” said Buchanan. “That’s why I’m committed to doing everything I can to make sure that no other family has to endure similar heartache. The greatest tribute we can pay to Nick is to ensure that future and entirely preventable military training accidents never happen again.”

Specifically, the legislation requires the Pentagon to:

  • Implement more realistic training practices
  • Develop stricter enforcement standards
  • And ensure better oversight to prevent future military training accidents and deaths.

Buchanan introduced the legislation as a standalone bill (H.R. 5268) and as an amendment to the NDAA following a report from the government’s top watchdog office that found a lack of driver training and failures to properly oversee and implement key safety procedures were largely to blame for several fatal training accidents. Buchanan’s proposal closely mirrors a provision included in the final version of the NDAA, which President Biden signed into law on Monday. The NDAA overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House and Senate by votes of 363-70 and 88-11, respectively.

According to Panipinto’s mother, Kimberly Weaver, Panipinto did not have a license, the required amount of driver training or any classroom instruction before beginning his road-test.

“The devastating loss of Nicholas was compounded by the fact that it was totally preventable," said Weaver. "I am hopeful that when implemented these reforms will help prevent another tragic loss. In the meantime, I am forever grateful to Congressman Buchanan for continuing to push for necessary military training reforms to protect service members.”

This is the second Buchanan measure related to military training accidents that Buchanan has had signed into law. Last year, Buchanan successfully offered another amendment to the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act that required the Department of Defense to examine emergency response capabilities and services currently available at U.S. bases around the world, and to report to Congress on the potential benefits and feasibility of requiring bases to have properly functioning MedEvac helicopters and fully stocked military ambulances.

Last Congress Buchanan had six of his legislative initiatives enacted into law, bringing the total number of legislative initiatives he has passed since taking office in 2007 to 24.

Buchanan has also authored three amendments that successfully passed the U.S. House earlier this year that he will continue to push to be enacted into law. The three amendments would curb veteran suicides, examine surging manatee deaths and combat drug overdoses.