'Shame on you,' disabled vet Duckworth grills IRS contractor


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.”

Duckworth paused.

“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.”


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  1. Thank you for reporting this important issue. Why isn’t it even mentioned on CNN, etc? Senator Duckworth is correct, Shame on Castillo.

  2. 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.

  3. 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’.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Robert Liautaud on

    The article missed Duckworth’s best Burn:

    “Oh, your foot hurts? Both my feet hurt”

    (I am a die hard Republican, and have served)

  8. @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.

  9. Dottie, etc…
    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.

  10. Richard Lidden on

    A broke foot…disabled veteran? I wonder if the VA would consider me a disabled combat veteran after playing Call of Duty since it first came out and developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

  11. 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.

  12. @Dottie
    Castillo didn’t serve his country, he only served himself. I’m a service disabled Veteran like you, and it took me 14 years after EAOS to file because of the stigma I felt was attached to it. But like you, I put my country first and served her in uniform in war.

    Ms. Duckworth isn’t castigating Castillo because she has more significant injuries than he, she’s on him because he’s a poseur who is siphoning off resources never intended to go to those who didn’t serve. He is, in effect, exploiting a loophole in the rules.

  13. I am unclear if Castillo was attending the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS). If he was, I understand he would have been cadet candidates and have been under contract with the government just like any other enlisted member. Had he been injured there, while a student, his injury would be classified like any other service-connected injury. Whether you are a REMF or on the pointy tip of the spear, or in this case a prep school cadet candidate, , if injured while serving your eligible to be reviewed for a service connected disability.

  14. Duckworth is a true hero. She fought for our country at great personal sacrifice and she is still fighting for justice for all our heroes! Even for you, Jeff. Would that we all had such agendas.

  15. I don’t think it’s so much “my injury is worse than yours” as it is “i was injured while serving in the armed forces and you were injured playing football in high school.” It’s his “service” that is called into question. Castillo calls himself a veteran because he went to a military high school for 9 months. And that is taking advantage of the system.

  16. @Dottie – I don’t think the point is so much that they were comparing injuries, but how and where those injuries were received. Attending Military Prep school is NOT serving one’s country, serving as you did DOES. I’ll pray for a swift and positive resolution to your disabiltiy claims. As for Mr. Castillo, no prayers will be sent on his behalf.

  17. @Jeff, if you’re so tired of veterans like Tammy Duckworth using their injuries for advantage, then why are you not tired of Castillo using the merest whiff of “service” for advantage over others? I don’t understand how someone’s political affiliation means that their true service to the US is worth nothing in your eyes.

  18. Jeff, what’s the “liberal agenda” she’s promoting here, in fact, what agenda is she promoting period? Does it not seem unethical that a man is claiming his has suffered for a battlefield wound throughout his life when in truth he’s actually talking about a prep school injury. Dislike her if you like, that’s fair, but admit you simply hate her because there’s a “D” after her name.

  19. @ Sarah – Amen sista. There had to be something about her that was selfless enough to make her commit to an active/combat specialty for her enlistment. It’s not like she was pushin pencils somewhere.

  20. @Jeff (of course you did)

    So you have a ‘contractor’ taking advantage of the taxpayer and profiteering from what is virtually a made up service related injury ( rating himself with a 30% disability), Duckworth calls him on it and shames him for it ‘but’ she’s “self serving”.

    You know? Talk Radio doesn’t make you smarter it just makes you sound like what you obviously are …

  21. Thanks REP Duckworth for standing up for real veterans and not these wannabees This contract should be declared NULL and VOID immediately.

  22. Jeff, because of your hatred of all things liberal, you ignore the substance of what is happening here. Finally a politician who is ready to get down and dirty to defend veterans and you complain. I guess Mr Castillo feels the same way about Duckworth as you do.

    My guess is, and I am also a vet from the Viet Nam era, is that you are one of those lard assed “lifers” who also gained the system. Deep down inside you feel guilty about it and resent those who were wounded and are now making a positive difference in the world.

  23. jeff and dottie = two peas in a pod. Idiocracy rules! trolls stay out of the complex discussions in this forum – lmfao

  24. Just a point of clarification. Even though Costillo still abused the system and sucks, the United States Military Academy Preparatory School is anything but high school. Many of its cadets are on active duty and pulled from active duty units, and you have to have graduated from high school to go there. I was enlisted and offered to the chance to go there, and a friend serving with me did take the offer. It is a very challenging institution on the ground of West Point.

  25. Jeff:
    that is HER point; Castillo was using his disability rating (for a non combat, prep school injury) for personal gain, acting like he is a hero. her point is that she has been able to succeed DESPITE her injures. Jeff, sounds like you are one of those malingerers who got his golden wound and now is out to get his. when I got out, at TAPS class there were a ton of pogs braggin about the disability ratings they would get; I have alot of hearing damage, but am not filing because I feel like that would be stealing from the 150+ amps, double amps, and triple amps from my battalion. i think there SHOULD be different levels of injury, combat and noncombat, and the combat injured should get the preferance because they didn’t just agree to risk life or limb, they gave it. they didn’t just write a blank check, they paid it. you and your paper cut can go shove it.

  26. Mr. Costillo is and should not have been awarded any veteran-owned company eligible for government set aside contracts. He’s not a veteran of any war or conflict. Has never been on active duty, reserve or national guard.
    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.
    How wrong are the programs and person’s within and with the IRS?

  27. Jeff, what agenda is she promoting? fairness? human decency? morality? there’s a reason why Darryl Issa (a conservative Republican) let Duckworth go over her allotted time. there’s a reason why lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent the hearing shaming Castillo. something as basic and fundamental as this is not a right v. left thing. it’s right v. wrong. what on earth do you object to here other than her party label? she is just trying to stop fraud and abuse and help veterans. your problem is??????

    and by the way, I’m sure she feels plenty lucky to be alive, and I’d bet she too buried friends over there. just because you served (like most people who read this site) doesn’t mean you can get away with being a jerk. go back under your rock where you can be miserable all by yourself.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. Joe the Signalman on

    Jeff said: “Typical liberal James, right away to the name calling.”

    You know what, Jeff? This was YOUR first comment on this thread: “Duckworth is just another self-serving liberal.”

    Maybe you should check yourself a little closer before posting, because you did *exactly* what you later criticized James for doing. Guess that makes you “just another self-serving liberal,” doesn’t it? 😀

    That said, I salute your service, but I don’t think very highly of you or your comments here. Next time, try engaging your brain before you put your yap in gear.

  31. 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?

  32. Jeff, I’d guess she speaks out about war because she doesn’t want what happened to her to happen to other people. War is anything but glorious; it’s a way for politicians to use citizens to help them gain power and money for themselves and their friends. Someone who has seen combat and is truthful with themselves is unlikely to glorify it.

  33. @Jeff, You only have credibility commenting on her injuries as “not relevent to the discussion” if you have not only lost the use of one arm and both legs blown off in the military services in the USA, you had better be able to up the ante to play in this game. by missing a body part other than your brain.

  34. Thank you Representative Duckworth for telling it like it is! Ms. Duckworth may be a pol, but she has walked the walk. When it comes miltary service and sacrifice, there are no libs or cons, just Americans.

  35. Advancing her agenda? Wow. Her agenda seems to be fighting for vets who are severely injured in REAL WAR to get benefits.

    Why what a shameless self-serving bitch she is: to use her position as a Senator to fight for the constituents who fight for this country. To use the fact that she gave her limbs for this country to further the cause of other vets who need her help and shame those who would take those benefits lightly or even where they’re not deserved.

    We need more Senators with an AGENDA LIKE THAT!

  36. Jeff served bravely as a Rear Admiral in the sexual Revolution..He was in charge of Seamen in the Denver Mens Room for Years working under cover with Republican Senators and Congressman..Certainly his PTSD is very real..

  37. Melvin Hirtzel on

    On this matter, not her status, but only to give some reality to this phony trying to screw all vets out of funds that is an easy steal for him… Ought to arrest him for lying…

  38. Tammy, THANK YOU for your courage and willingness to persevere in castigating this self-serving liar who is scamming the veterans compensation system. You kept your emotions in check ,but still managed to stay on point and focused in calling him out.
    The nerve of this jerk to not only commit fraud and lie about his status as a disabled veteran, but to then appear before your committee as an example of ” OH WHOA IS ME ” thinking
    Again THANK YOU TAMMY !!!!
    JEFF are you paying attention ???? There is NO reason to attack Sen. Duckworth, LISTEN UP BOY this women is speaking for all VETERANS

  39. Jeff & Dottie: I get the feeling that you are going to attack any elected official w/ a ‘D’ next to their name. If Duckworth were a republican you would be all over what she’s saying, which is that people like Castillo are stretching their qualifications to ‘game the system’ for personal gain. He is clogging the system, preventing other (more deserving) veterans access to VA benefits. Castillo is doing the very thing that republicans insist is happening across the board in all social programs – taking advantage of the system for personal gain.

  40. Judith Allen on

    Give it up.
    High school football injuries of a young man who either didn’t qualify for the Academy or decided not to pursue a military career doesn’t compare to Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s combat-related injuries.
    Castillo was definitely “gaming the system”.
    A sad case on Castillo’s part.
    He should be ashamed, and for supporting him, you should be ashamed, also.
    (I am the wife of a military veteran, the son of an Airborne drill instructor, who served in Vietnam and in the Texas Air National Guard for a total of 33-plus years.)

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