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This was originally going to be the “Afterward” for a story I’m writing. But it needs to be said more widely than the story might ever circulate, so here it is.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder comes from many things.

First, about 10% of the population have a genetic propensity. It’s how their mind and body reacts to stress.

For ordinary people: Anything you can’t control that kicks safety out from underneath you without warning, anything that could come back again. Abuse, sudden violence such as rape or mugging, existing financial difficulties made worse by being laid off.

Police officers face it everyday. Whenever they stop a car, knock on a door after someone reports domestic violence, deal with a gang fight.

For soldiers in combat zones, with modern warfare, there’s living under constant threat of attack at any moment, even in the “safety” of your own quarters. (Rockets are cheap and can hit targets miles away.) Then you might come home to family and friends who don’t understand what you’ve been through, maybe don’t agree with what you went off to do in the first place, to a country that isn’t providing nearly enough care for its returning veterans.

For women soldiers, there’s also the constant stress of serving with squad mates who might still have issues with women in combat. I have a friend who’s in Afghanistan right now. She keeps her pistol with her 24/7, because she’s had to draw it a few times to protect herself from sexual assault by male soldiers.

For women soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there’s the additional stress of dealing with a local culture that has a radically different way of treating women than American women are used to. My friend in Afghanistan was with her CO, meeting with a local village chief. During the discussion, the chief started making offers to buy her from her CO. (Her CO said no.)

Then there’s the Taliban’s treatment of women. (Not even Quran supports their treatment of women.)

So the next time you see a homeless veteran – male or female – you thank them for what they did for you.

The next time you hear a politician talk about how “Times are tough, we need to cut back” – you stand up and say, “You’re not cutting their safety net!”

No more votes for politicians who think the rich need help but the poor and homeless don’t.