The three Democratic presidential frontrunners gave their final pitches to Iowa voters Monday night at a nationally televised town hall event just one week before that state's caucuses, answering questions directly from voters on a host of domestic and foreign policy issues.

The format gave each of the candidates — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley — a chance to more thoroughly lay out their positions than in the four quick-response debates held so far.

Here's a look at some of the key military and veterans policy issues they discussed:

Clinton, on use of military power

"I think it's imperative (as president) you do your very best … to avoid military action. It should be the last resort, not the first choice, to use diplomacy, even if it's slow, boring, hard, to continue to persist and be patient to get results.

"And that you also should use the enormous capabilities that we have to project our values around the world, our cultural values, our freedoms, our human rights, and respect for the dignity of all people...

"Every situation is different. So I want to make sure I stay as close as possible to the non-intervention. That's why I say no American ground troops in Syria or Iraq. Special Forces, trainers, yes. Planes to bomb, yes. No ground forces."

Sanders, on his perceived lack of foreign policy experience:

"Experience is important, but judgment is also important. … Dick Cheney, he had a lot of experience, too. His policies with regard to foreign affairs was an absolute disaster. So, experience is important, but it is not the only thing.

"I would urge people to check out my views on foreign policy, how we deal with ISIS, and I think they will make a lot of sense to the people of Iowa, and the people of our country."

O'Malley, on veterans employment

"My strategic goal is full employment for the veterans of ours who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We do a very poor job of transitioning our veterans back to civilian life. And I have found, as a governor attacking this problem, that the key is employment...

"We're a better nation than this and we need to have a transition program so that none of our veterans slip through the cracks and we need to make the first goal so that we can then get to the post-traumatic stress issues, mental health and other things."

Sanders, on his ability to work with Republicans

"I am probably the most progressive member in the U.S. Senate. But, I have over the years, not only in the Senate, but in the House, worked with Republicans when there was common ground. When I was in the House, in a number of years I got more amendments passed on the floor of the House working with Republicans than anyone else...

"In the Senate, just a couple of years ago, in a dysfunctional Congress I worked with people like John McCain, people like Jeff Miller over in the House, to pass the most comprehensive Veterans health care legislation in the modern history of the United States of America."

Clinton, on the threat of terrorism

"This is not something new. This is a long-term challenge. That's why I've laid out a plan to defeat ISIS and the radical jihadist terrorist networks that I think has the best chance of achieving that...

"We have to be leading. And that means we've got to be smart about how we try to assert our power so that it is constructive, makes a difference and does lead to greater peace and prosperity."

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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