Local veterans support accused soldier's family

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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A local veterans group has been raising money to support the wife and children of Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians.

"They will need it all," said Carlos Alameda, Veterans of Foreign Wars state commander, who was introduced to the staff sergeant at an event before he deployed. "They will need more than that."

The Tacoma News Tribune reported Sunday that the group's chapter in Tacoma raised nearly $2,000 for the family earlier this month.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 91 in Tacoma also arranged for Kari Bales and her children — a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son — to ride in a float during the Daffodil Parade.

The children got a kick seeing characters and a fire truck at the parade staging area, said Elmer Clark, the VFW post commander.

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.

Kari Bales and the children were moved from their Lake Tapps home onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord over concerns they might be targets for retaliation when Robert Bales' name went public March 16.

Bales is being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

VFW officials said they're simply carrying out their mission, even if it involves a military family thrust into the brightest of spotlights amid allegations of the most serious war crime committed by a U.S. soldier in the decade-long conflict.

"It's helping other veterans or families that have a need," said Tom Darling, the veterans organization's state chaplain. "We have done a lot of things like this in the VFW."