Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), had a heated exchange with a man who the Committee for Oversight and Government Reform says defrauded the government for millions of dollars in aid and federal incentives by claiming to be an injured veteran,
Braulio Castillo received a 30-per cent disability rating from the Veterans Affairs Administration for a sprained ankle he received in 1984. He never served on active duty.
Duckworth is probably the last person Castillo ever wanted to meet. The first-term congresswoman is a veteran of the war in Iraq, where she lost both of her legs and sustained major damage to her right arm. The exchange, which Republican Chairman Darrell Issa crossed party lines and allowed to continue well past the allotted time, went like this:
“Do you feel that the 30 per cent rating that you have received for your scars and the pain in your foot is accurate to the sacrifices you have made for this nation,” Duckworth asked.
“Yes ma’am, I do,” Casitillo replied
Wrong answer. Duckworth reared back for the knockout punch and delivered this (emphasis added):
“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. In fact, we thought we would lose my arm, and I’m 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 per cent.”
Castillo attended a prep school affiliated with West Point Military academy for one year in 1984. After he sprained his ankle in training, he dropped out. He later enjoyed a career as a college quarterback at San Diego State University.
He went 27 years without claiming any benefits affiliated with his military service, until his company acquired a company called Signet Computers and he sought a government contract. Because having a service connected disability would have helped him get the contract, he wrote this email to the VA examiner reviewing his case:
My family and I have made considerable sacrifices for our country. My service connected disability status should serve as a testimony to that end. I can’t play with my kids because I can’t walk without pain. I take twice daily pain medication so I can work a normal day’s worth. These are crosses that I bear due to my service to our great country. I would do it again to protect this great country. Part of my reasoning for my line of work is that I can continue to support the US federal government. My ask is that you certify me, my company, so that my sacrifices and investments are for not [sic] and that I can provide for my family.
There was also this gem from the exchange:
“Your foot hurt,” Duckworth asked, “your left foot?
“Yes ma’am,” he replied.
“It hurts, yep. My feet hurt too. In fact, the balls of my feet burn continuously and I feel like there’s a nail being hammered into my right heel right now,” Duckworth said. “So … I’m sorry twisting your ankle in high school has come back to hurt you in such a painful way.”
Watch the full video below:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.