WA veterans rally around accused soldier's family

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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- Through fundraisers and local outings, local veterans are rendering their support to the family of Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians.

Veterans of Foreign Wars state commander Carlos Alameda says that Kari Bales and her two young children are collateral damage and need help.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/JKqCyQ) the group's chapter in Tacoma raised nearly $2,000 from a dinner earlier this month.

The group also arranged for Bales and her children -- a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son -- to ride in a float during a parade.

Bales is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The military says he left his base in southern Afghanistan and went on a nighttime shooting rampage through two villages on March 11. Nine of the dead were children.