Double-Amputee Congresswoman Blasts CEO for using Ankle Injury to Qualify for Disabled Vets Contracts

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Business executive Braulio Castillo really got an earful this week from Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


Castillo’s company, Strong Castle Inc. is under scrutiny for receiving a dozen computer-services contracts worth $500 million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after only being founded two years ago.


Democrats and Republicans on the committee have suspected that Castillo’s “cozy relationship” with IRS Deputy Director for IT Acquisition Greg Roseman may have helped Strong Castle win so many contracts so quickly.


But what got the gall of Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both her legs in combat, was how Castillo managed to claim disabled veteran status.


Castillo never went to war. He sustained a foot injury while training to play football at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) and didn’t even apply for veterans’ disability payments until 27 years later. In fact, after the injury he went on to play quarterback and linebacker at the University of San Diego. His injury during his one year at USMAPS qualified him as a veteran and made his company eligible for contracts set aside for disabled veterans.


Duckworth mocked Castillo’s disability.


“My feet hurt too,” Duckworth said, sarcastically. “In fact, the balls of my feet hurt continuously. So I can understand and...I'm so sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come to hurt you in such a painful way.”


But she wasn’t through with Castillo.


The congresswoman asked Castillo how severe his injury was rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He said it was rated at 30%.


Duckworth then pointed to her own arm.


“My right arm was essentially blown off and reattached...and I’m still in danger of losing my arm. I can’t feel my arm. My disability rating for that arm is 20 percent,” she said.


Castillo responded with: “I don’t set the ratings.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Tammy Duckworth Mocks Strong Castle CEO during IRS Probe (by Henry C. Jackson, Associated Press)

Veteran Congresswoman Hammers IRS Contractor’s Questionable Veterans Disability Claim (by Caroline May, Daily Caller)

Report: Friendship may have Greased Wheels for IRS Contracts (by Bernie Becker, The Hill)

Questionable Acquisitions: Problematic IT Contracting at the IRS (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) (pdf)


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