PRESIDENT BUSH should make only one resolution in the new year: To make sure this country raises its standards on how we treat the people we ask to fight for us around the world.

However depressing the news from Iraq is, it's overshadowed by even more depressing news: of how hard many veterans have to fight once they've left the battlefield - for health care, for help with the mental scars of battle, for jobs, for their homes.

In recent months, reports have documented a disturbing track record in how this country treats its military heroes. The bottom line in all these reports: Walter Reed was just the tip of the iceberg.

Each of us can and should resolve to act. Write your congressional representative to urge better attention to veterans and soldiers. But don't stop there. Send your own personal message or package directly to a soldier. The USO and Red Cross are just two organizations that can get greetings, donations or packages to soliders. The Red Cross just ended a program that allowed people to send a card to any wounded soldier. Check its Web site (www.redcross.org) for ways to help. *