Kevork Djansezian, Associated Press
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and demonstrators who are protesting against Trump's campaign appearance aboard the USS Iowa battleship meet across the street from the event site in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

LOS ANGELES — Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said Tuesday that veterans should get subsidized private health care if they face unacceptable waits in the current system, because "we have illegal immigrants that are treated better by far than our veterans."

Trump addressed veterans aboard a World War II battleship in Los Angeles harbor in a speech that sought to project a foreign policy stance as muscular as the old warship's triple 16-inch guns behind him.

He called for a military buildup so broad that no foe would challenge the U.S., as well as a new health care deal for veterans. In doing so, he again swiped at people who are in the country illegally, a refrain that has powered his campaign since the start. Trump gave no details on how he would pay for an expansion in the armed forces — or veterans' health care — leaving his foreign policy agenda still mostly a blank slate.

He spoke aboard the retired ship USS Iowa, which bears the name of the leadoff caucus state of the 2016 campaign.

To date, the GOP front-runner has laid out few policy details beyond his rallying cry to make America "great again."

The speech came on the eve of the second GOP presidential debate.

The organization Veterans For a Strong America put together the event and its leaders endorsed Trump in the campaign.