Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

U.S. House Adopts Buchanan Amendment to National Defense Bill

Jul 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – The  U.S. House Monday overwhelmingly passed Congressman Vern Buchanan’s amendment requiring the Pentagon to examine emergency medical services at U.S. military bases following the tragic death of a Bradenton soldier.

Buchanan filed the measure to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as a part of his push for military training reforms after Bradenton soldier SPC Nicholas Panipinto died in a vehicle training accident in South Korea last year. A lack of emergency services on base and delays in medical response was cited in his death. 

“The heartbreaking and very preventable death of my constituent SPC Nicholas Panipinto clearly shows that changes in training and safety procedures need to be made,” Buchanan said. “The serious deficiencies and failures identified in the report on SPC Panipinto’s death call for immediate reforms within the Department of Defense. I want to make sure that no family has to go through the pain and suffering that SPC Panipinto’s family has faced.”

Buchanan’s amendment, which passed with broad bipartisan support, requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to examine emergency response capabilities and services currently available at every U.S. military base 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. The House is expected to pass the underlying bill, which includes Buchanan’s amendment, later today before sending it to the Senate for consideration.

SPC Panipinto died in a training accident at Camp Humphreys in South Korea last November when the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was driving overturned during a road-test. Numerous safety and training failures contributed to SPC Panipinto’s death, including, a lack of medical services on base and significant delays in medical response to the scene of the accident. In fact, according to the unit investigation, Camp Humphreys did not have a military ambulance available to quickly transport SPC Panipinto to a medical facility for emergency medical treatment and a civilian ambulance that responded to the scene of the accident lacked critical life-saving medical supplies. Additional failures included one MedEvac helicopter getting lost en route and another which could not even start in the first place. Panipento eventually arrived at a hospital two hours after the accident and died from his injuries later that day. 

Last month, Buchanan sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees, detailing the disturbing revelations surrounding the case of SPC Panipinto and called for several changes to the military’s current training and safety protocols to be addressed in the annual defense policy bill. He sent a similar letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. 

“The highest tribute that can be paid to the life of SPC Panipinto is that the Defense Department will make sure that future military personnel who are injured during training exercises can quickly receive high-quality medical treatment that might help save their lives,” Buchanan continued.

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, between 2006 and 2018 a staggering 32 percent of active-duty military deaths were the result of training accidents. During that same time period, only 16 percent of service members were killed in action. And in 2017 alone, nearly four times as many service members died in training accidents than were killed in action.