- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2013

Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq conflict and a double amputee, blasted a corporate CEO who contracted with the IRS and claimed a veterans’ disability from a minor injury he suffered during preparatory school.

She unleashed the criticisms during a House hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s suspicious contracting practices, The Daily Caller reported. Claiming a veterans’ disability gives government workers and those who contract with the government a few extra points with hiring managers.

To Braulio Castillo, the CEO of Strong Castle Inc., Ms. Duckworth of Illinois said: “I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in [prep] school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way — if not also opportune for you to gain the status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts.”

Mr. Castillo obtained a disability asterisk next to his name via the VA’s Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program due to a claimed foot injury he suffered at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School that he went to for a year. He then went on to quarterback the football team at San Diego City College and join the football team at the University of San Diego, a report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found.

Ms. Duckworth asked him: “Do you feel that the 30 percent rating that you have for the scars and the pain in your foot is accurate to the sacrifices that you’ve made for this nation?”

He responded, “Yes, ma’am I do.”

Ms. Duckworth then replied: “You know, my right arm was essentially blown off and reattached. I spent a year in limb salvage with over a dozen surgeries over that time period and in fact, we thought we would lose my arm, and I am still in danger of possibly losing my arm. I can’t feel it, I can’t feel my three fingers. My disability rating for that arm is 20 percent.”

Ms. Duckworth then quoted from Mr. Castillo’s application letter for disability, in which he described his disability as “crosses I bear due to my service to our country, and I would do it again to protect this great country,” The Daily Caller reported.

She finished: “Shame on you, Mr. Castillo. Shame on you. You may not have broken any laws … [but] you broke the trust of veterans.” She also added: “Twisting your ankle in prep school is not defending or serving this nation.”

Mr. Castillo ultimately secured contracts with the IRS worth more than $500 million, The Daily Caller reported.

Ms. Duckworth served as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army, losing both her legs and seriously damaging her right arm in combat-related injuries.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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