U.S. House Passes Final National Defense Bill with Buchanan Measure Included
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House today passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act which included 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) in July as a part of his push for military training reforms after Army Specialist Nicholas Panipinto of Bradenton 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 highest tribute that can be paid to the life of Specialist Panipinto is for the Defense Department to ensure that future military personnel who are injured during training exercises can quickly receive high-quality medical treatment that might help save their lives,” Buchanan said. “I am deeply humbled that Nick’s mother came to me with their tragic story and has allowed me to help. I know that these reforms will save lives and prevent future heartache felt by families like hers across the country.”
Buchanan’s amendment requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to examine emergency response capabilities and services currently available at U.S. military 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.
The U.S. House initially passed its version of the NDAA in July, with Buchanan’s amendment included, and the Senate later followed suit passing its own separate version. The U.S. House and Senate then had to reconcile their competing versions and produce a final conference report. The final agreement is now expected to pass the Senate in the coming days and head to the President’s desk.
Specialist Panipinto’s mother, Kimberly Weaver, praised Buchanan saying, “This isn't just a win for our family, but for every military family. We are so thankful to Congressman Buchanan for all of his help in getting these necessary changes one step closer to being signed into law.”
Deaths during training exercises have risen dramatically in recent years. In 2017 alone, nearly four times as many service members died in training accidents than were killed in action.
Buchanan has repeatedly called for changes to military training procedures following Panipinto’s death. Earlier this year, Buchanan called on the House Armed Services Committee to hold a public hearing on military training accidents following the death of a Bradenton soldier last year and a recent training accident that left nine service members dead in California. Buchanan also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper proposing a number of changes to the military’s current training and safety protocols to prevent future deaths.