An Iraq war veteran and congresswoman slammed Braulio Castillo for abusing services offered to disabled veterans at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, mocking Castillo for taking advantage of a healed ankle injury he sustained at a military prep school almost three decades ago.
Castillo, the owner of a contracting company called Strong Castle, worked with friends inside the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies to gain up to a half-billion dollars employing a disabled-veteran’s status from an ankle injury he suffered at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School. Castillo played college football the year after his injury occurred, according to the Federal Times.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently conducted an investigation of Castillo after he claimed disabled-veterans status in 2012. When Castillo’s veteran’s status was approved last year, he tried to use his business to milk the government’s VA’s Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Washington Post.
Representative Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois who lost both legs in 2004 during military service, blatantly mocked Castillo at Wednesday’s congressional hearing.
“I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way, if also opportune for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts,” she said.
After asking Castillo whether or not his left foot hurt, Duckworth proceeded to compare his injuries to her own and subsequently to one of her friends who sustained a fatal arm injury in Vietnam.
“Yeah, my feet hurt too. In fact, the balls of my feet burn continuously and I feel like there is a nail being hammered into my right heel right now,” Duckworth told Castillo.
Castillo, however, claimed he is innocent and his behavior was valid. He does not think he was wrong when he previously talked about the “crosses I bear due to my service to our great country” while applying to the veteran’s program.
“Throughout our work with the IRS, we have never received any improper preferential treatment, and have competed fairly for every contract we have received,” Castillo said. “We are confident that the record will ultimately show that our company has committed no wrongdoing.”