Questions from the military: What a retired Marine wants to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

The candidates' toughest questions may come from the people who are serving

By Justin Constantine
Published October 9, 2016 10:30PM (EDT)
U.S. marines fire during a Taliban ambush as they carry out an operation to clear an area in Helmand province, October 9, 2009.
U.S. marines fire during a Taliban ambush as they carry out an operation to clear an area in Helmand province, October 9, 2009.

This Sunday, you could get a chance to ask the next president a question. At the second presidential debate, hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, everyday citizens will get a chance to pose their questions directly to the two major-party nominees.

If you’re like me, you probably already have some questions you’d like to ask. Since I’m interested in the safety and well-being of our nation’s military, I have some questions on how they plan to use force when conducting foreign policy and protecting our country. As a Marine veteran who was wounded in Iraq, I’m also curious about how they will support our returning veterans.

Both candidates have taken actions and endorsed policies that have left us wanting to know more about their understanding of our issues. Here are five questions for each candidate you may want to consider if you happen to get the chance to ask.

Questions for Donald Trump:

  • You’ve said that you know more about fighting ISIS than our generals. Isn’t that a complete slap in the face to our senior enlisted and officer personnel who have dedicated their lives to our military?
  • Many service members state that the current services provided to them as they transition back into civilian life are not helpful. Name one thing that you would do to improve this process as president?
  • You’ve said that you have a secret plan to defeat the Islamic State that is “foolproof.” But you’ve also said that you’ll ask the nation’s generals to give you a plan within 30 days. If your plan is foolproof, why would you ask for another one?
  • You stated during the last debate that it was “good business” to avoid paying federal taxes. But within our system where our military is financed by taxpayer dollars, isn’t it hypocritical of you to also complain at the same time that our military is a disaster?
  • You acknowledged recently during a meeting with veterans that PTSD is a significant issue in this country. What specific steps would you take to reduce the stigma around seeking treatment for PTSD and other behavioral health issues, across society as a whole and within our military?

Questions for Hillary Clinton:

  • After the war in Iraq, many Americans saw the problems associated with sending our troops into a country without an exit strategy. Under what circumstances would you deploy our military?
  • Since the end of the draft, the all-volunteer military has seen less than one percent of our population fighting our nation’s battles, often in multiple tours of duty. Are you concerned about the effects this has on our military?
  • If you could revisit the decision to intervene in Libya during your tenure as Secretary of State, what would you do differently? How would that inform the military actions you might take as president?
  • Our government has clearly not provided many of our Veterans the care that they need and deserve. Appeals of their cases can take close to a decade to adjudicate, the veteran suicide rate is through the roof, and Post Traumatic Stress still has a huge stigma attached to it. What specific measures would you take to rectify these problems?
  • You have deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for radical schools and mosques around the world that have sent too many young people on a path towards extremism. Yet Saudi Arabia still remains a close ally of ours. What would you do to change that?

Justin Constantine retired from the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel, and is an inspirational speaker, leadership consultant and entrepreneur. He is the author of the new book “My Battlefield, Your Office: Leadership Lessons from the Front Lines.” A Presidential Leadership Scholar, Justin is also a fellow with the Truman National Security Project. He recently received an advanced law degree in National Security from Georgetown University. He sits on the board of directors of several national nonprofits, and co-founded the Veteran Success Resource Group. Justin received a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq. To learn more, visit:

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2016 Presidential Campaign 2016 Presidential Debates Donald Trump Elections 2016 Hillary Clinton