Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, lost her legs and the use of her right arm as a helicopter pilot in Iraq in 2004. She was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries.
Braulio Castillo broke his foot in a prep school injury nearly three decades ago at the U.S. Military Preparatory School, which he attended for nine months before playing football in college. He owns a technology business certified as a service-disabled, veteran-owned company eligible for government set aside contracts.
The two met at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing Wednesday in an exchange neither will forget anytime soon.
For background, what brought them together was a months-long House probe into whether Castillo’s company won IRS contracts thanks, in part, to help from a top contracting official and friend inside the IRS named Greg Roseman, who pleaded the Fifth Amendment when called to testify.
While much of the hearing delved into questions about Roseman and Castillo’s friendship, lawmakers from both parties wondered aloud how a prep school injury suffered so long ago could result in Castillo’s company getting special set aside contract status from the government at a time when so many injured veterans are looking for work.
But among hours of testimony, Duckworth’s questioning of Castillo stood out.
She talked of her own struggles and those of a friend who, exposed to Agent Orange, died of leukemia. She talked of recovering from her injuries along with a young man whose leg had been blown off. And she talked about a backlog of veterans waiting more than 200 days to receive disability ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
At one point, Duckworth read aloud from a letter that Castillo had sent to the VA as his company sought set-aside contract status, quoting him as saying, “These are crosses that I bear due to my service to our great country and I would do it again to protect this great country.”
“I’m so glad that you would be willing to play football in prep school again to protect this great country,” she said. “Shame on you, Mr. Castillo. Shame on you. You may not have broken any laws … but you certainly broke the trust of this great nation. You broke the trust of veterans.”
Thank you for reporting this important issue. Why isn’t it even mentioned on CNN, etc? Senator Duckworth is correct, Shame on Castillo.
Robin, it is reported on many newsfronts. CNN , unfortunately has digressed in recent years. As far as Mr. Castillo…hope he is reported to Stolen Valor, he certainly lost any credibility, which was none and hopefully they will pull any contracts he did get.
The prevailing issue is whether or not Mr. Castillo received information and assistance that was not available to other qualified businesses to win an award and therefore received an unfair advantage in the award determination. The fact he is apparently a certified disabled veteran business makes him eligible to bid, and potentially win, set-aside contracts. There is suggestion in the testimony that disabled veteran status should be based on a determination of “my debilitating injury is worse than your injury” comparisons. Clearly Mr. Castillo’s injury is not at the same level as loss of limb and other injuries suffered by our Veterans. As a woman- and veteran-owned small business (Vietnam, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veteran) I am waiting to hear from the VA on claims I have submitted. I would be very distressed to have my disability determination based on others’ level of disability. I have served my country and have earned benefits afforded to Veterans and would expect that my claim determinations are made on my own merits, not on a comparison of others’.
@Robin K. it’s on CBS.
Outstanding comments by Duckworth, and kudos to Issa for letting her go over her allotted time.
He may be able to able for a new disability based on the 18 new a**holes she tore in his body.
Duckworth is just another self-serving liberal
Dear Jeff; get a life and try to leave veterans to sort out our own affairs. We know who is who and if you and Dottie think that a bad sprain playing football equals a combat wound “shame on you” plus please get a brain to go with a new life.
Prep School is basic high school because your not good enough in your grades to pass the academic requirements for a military academy. You must have some great lies to tell about your service if all you have is a broken foot from high school football. The person who certified you as a “service connected disability” should be drawn and quartered in the glare of public ridicule for such a silly falsehood.
Jeff, you’re an idiot. Why even bring politics in to this?
It’s capitalism, and human greed. Political affiliations are irrelevant. He could be a conservative christian right-winger, or a tree-huggin leftist. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is he got destroyed verbally, and will probably (unfortunately) be able to keep his money and contracts.
The article missed Duckworth’s best Burn:
“Oh, your foot hurts? Both my feet hurt”
(I am a die hard Republican, and have served)
@Jeff … Yeah, a liberal who had both her legs blown off and lost the use of her arm after volunteered to go to war. If she truly just wanted to be self-serving, she certainly wasn’t very good at it.
Costillo NEVER served! He twisted his ankle (not broken) playing football in High School. then he proceeded to play football for the next four years in college with no problem. Why on earth does playing football at a military high school qualify him as a veteran? He only attended that school for 9 months, also.
I’ve done two tours as well and have over 25 years of service. I am tired of veterans like herself using their injuries to their advantage to promote their agenda. Kriesel from MN is another. I buried a lot of friends over there so they should be happy just to be alive.
Typical liberal James, right away to the name calling
If Mr Castillo went to the USMA Prep School he would have attended the US Military Academy after leaving the prep school– it is normally for prior service folks to get them back up to speed. The prep school is active duty service… If he suffered an injury there it was Line of Duty… If a disability later results he could very well have a percentage of disability (from a line of duty injury– war or not) that allows him a preference. If that is true Mrs Duckworth was out of line… Relative comparison of injuries not withstanding. It is just the way it is. The political aspect may have been her purpose… Unfortunately.
Senator Duckworth’s comment speaks for themselves.
This story has exactly nothing to do with liberal versus conservative politics. It is about a non-vet claiming special benefits and consideration that aren’t his due.
I have met Representative Duckworth and she isn’t self-serving in the least. Her “agenda” is to make sure vets have a strong voice in Washington. How dastardly!
The story here is much bigger than anyone give credit for. Privatizing government has done nothing except make it three times more expensive and half as productive.
This is the same gal that spoke out against the war but then when it’s convienient uses her injuries to advance her agenda. How do you think that she got elected?