THE BLOG
07/25/2013 12:27 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2013

Combatting Greed With Charity: 7 Virtues + 7 Vices For Our Vets

When we think of our veterans, "greed" is probably the last word that comes to mind. There's nothing greedy about sacrificing your life, your time with your family and your security to help countless people you likely will never meet, and never hear a simple "thank you" from. Selfless, determined and courageous, our veterans don't have an ounce of greed in their bodies.

But post-traumatic stress disorder has a way of making us go against our nature and cling to vices as ways of healing in our new post-war normal. One of these vices is greed. An insatiable desire to possess more than you need, this deadly sin can inflict even the most selfless veteran when emotional issues such as PTSD come into play.

It isn't easy to find true healing or authentic well-being after experiencing the trauma of the battlefield. PTSD can cause our veterans to experience painful flashbacks without a moment's notice, triggering violent reactions, emotional turmoil and the inability to fulfill typical daily tasks such as working, sleeping or interacting with your family. It's a complicated cycle that can't be cured overnight. When there's no miracle fix for all the pain you're feeling, you've got to find some way to heal. And for many veterans with PTSD, material things can momentarily ease the pain.

Greed is a convenient way to clutter your life with things you don't need so that you can't see the issues that are causing you to overindulge in the first place. The trend goes something like this: you buy stuff to get your mind off your issues; as soon as that stuff loses its novelty, your problems resurface. Then, you buy more stuff, perpetuating the possessions cycle as your troubles become more severe. And in the case of PTSD, when people let their trauma go untreated, it tends to manifest itself in many dangerous ways: violence, anger, unpredictable emotional reactions, stretches of insomnia and physical and emotional anxiety. When your unchecked trauma gets to this stage, all the possessions in the world won't be able to distract you from your pain.

So how do you de-greed your life? Through charity. Charity isn't just about giving people material things. It's about treating them with loving kindness. Loving kindness is the state in which you treat others with acts of kindness and generosity. It also means putting the needs of others before your own needs -- a crucial part of the service-minded values that drive our military men and women to courageously sacrifice their safety for our well-being. By interacting with others through charity, you'll begin to dissolve your greed and replace it with a mindset that helps you forge positive connections with your community and your world. This crucial shift in your mindset will help you turn your post-traumatic stress into post-traumatic growth.

By showing others loving kindness, you'll rekindle your innate desire to serve your country through goodwill. And here's the best part: once you start acting with generosity and charity, you'll no longer need material possessions to dull your emotional turmoil. Loving kindness will equip you with a positive mindset that encourages others to support you in the way you support them. With this new, blossoming community around you, you'll be surprised at how quickly you can find happiness and authentic well-being in your civilian word.