At the bottom of this post is the video that inspired this post.
Rep. Darrel Issa posted it, apparently in agreement with Rep Duckworth’s treatment of the businessman, Mr. Castillo, over his use of veteran’s disability to gain an advantage in competing for contracts.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a fan of LTC Duckworth’s civilian service. Her association with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association is troubling. Her past positions with the Illinois state VA and the federal VA, also, especially in the light of this particular exchange. if the rules are bad, she’s been in a position to fix them, or at least bring them to light, longer than many. In essence, if she told me that the sky was blue, I’d have to head outside to check.
Seems that Mr. Castillo once attended a military prep school and while there, hurt his foot playing football. And that is the basis for a finding of 30% disability from the VA which allows him to apply for contracts as a disabled veteran with the preferences that that brings.
I can see where Issa and Duckworth are coming from. This is a case of a man lacking a properly functioning moral compass, who would take advantage of something that he should not.
But that’s not the whole story. It also seems that he did nothing wrong. The rules, as written, allow this. A disabled moral compass gets no assistance here from the laws. Laws and regulations, I might add, written by Congress. Reps. Issa and Duckworth are, and have been, in a position to have done something about this.
There’s still more. At one point in the harrangue, Rep. Duckworth, compares Castillo to others she has known who are disabled because they “picked up a weapon in defense of this country.” The danger here is in placing a higher value on those who have engaged in combat compared with those who may have been just as greviously wounded, “only” in training. There’s a whole continuum here. I have deployed to a combat zone three times and have never fired a shot in anger. I have a friend who was, in fact, injured, in training, but as a National Guard member with no active duty time, is entitled to no medical benefits at all.
But the rules, as written, allow someone hurt playing football for a military prep school to even apply?
There are injustices here. But Mr. Castillo, while probably (I’d like a lot more context) misguided, is far from the bad guy. Instead it seems to me that it’s those who are keeping the rule book who are most at fault.