Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), the former Assistant Secretary of the federal VA and head of the Illinois VA, has a lot of experience with serving in our nation’s military, and in taking care of the soldiers who return. It’s no small wonder that she ripped into Braulio Castillo, a federal contractor, for his egregious abuse of the veterans’ preference system – he claimed a veterans’ injury that he sustained while playing football at a military high school. His company claimed $500 million of government contracts, and his application lists his “sacrifices to this country.”
Duckworth, on the other hand, lost both her legs and part of her right arm as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.
“Does your foot hurt,” Duckworth asked Castillo. “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 heel right now. So I can understand pain and suffering, and how service connection can actually cause long-term, unremitting, unyielding, unstoppable pain.”
“So I’m sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful, if also opportune, way for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts.”
Duckworth’s public shaming of Castillo is one of the most thorough and justified takedowns that I have seen during Congressional testimony.
(Full disclosure: AAA Fund and AAA Fund Greater Chicago endorsed Rep. Duckworth in her first Congressional campaign and in 2012.)