“He has shown that he lacks all honor and is, in my judgment, unfit to serve.”

Veterans and first responders today spoke out against Tommy Thompson's dishonest and disgraceful 9/11 TV ad at a press event in Milwaukee.

Since its release, Thompson has been on the receiving end of sharp criticism from the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks, firefighters, veterans and first responders. Within hours of the release of Thompson's ad the independent organization FactCheck.org called the ad a smear. They ruled the ad “false,” and said the ad “distorts the facts.” They also set the record straight by writing “Baldwin did honor the victims of the terrorist attacks,” pointing out that Baldwin has supported honoring the victims of 9/11 on nine occasions.

Baldwin has also received high praise for her work on passing legislation to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler of New York, lead sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, said, “Tammy Baldwin has an outstanding record of leadership in standing up for our 9/11 first responders and survivors, and anyone who says differently is willfully disregarding the facts. Among her many contributions, she played a truly critical role in the passage of the landmark Zadroga Act — which provides these heroes with essential healthcare and compensation–through her work on two key committees.”

For his own part, Thompson, who served as HHS Secretary for the Bush Administration, has been criticized by 9/11 first responders and New York’s Congressional delegation for not making health care a priority. And after leaving HHS, Thompson then cashed in with an $11 million government contract to provide health care to 9/11 first responders, but left many of them without the care they were promised. Thompson’s business was supposed to provide health care services for first responders, but Thompson’s company was unresponsive to 9/11 first responders.  Thompson personally made over $3 million off the deal.

Joel Chappelle, a retired Army veteran of the Kosovo theater who was wearing the uniform on Sept. 11th, said, “Like millions before me, I served my country because I saw no better way to demonstrate my gratitude than to put everything on the line in its defense. I chose to put on the uniform of my country out of a sense of service not to a red America or a blue America. I chose to serve all Americans.”

Chappelle continued by noting that, in the days following the 9/11 tragedy, “I would never have imagined then that anyone would ever attempt to politicize that day. To do so violates the most basic sense of decency and it goes against everything we stand for. It saddens me, on many levels, to see Tommy Thompson using a national tragedy to score political points. Calling Congresswoman Baldwin’s patriotism into question is ugly on its own. Leveraging 9/11 to do it is cynical, reprehensible and unforgivable.”

Jeremy Ryan, a Kenosha firefighter/paramedic, stated that in Tommy Thompson’s use of the September 11th attacks, “he has shown that he lacks all honor and is, in my judgment, unfit to serve.”

Dave Boetcher, another Wisconsin veteran, added that, “To have Tommy Thompson use the sacrifice of veterans and first responders to score cheap and shameful political points is something I thought I would never see him stoop to. But he is a desperate man and desperate men do desperate things.”