VA Hiring Freeze, Sylacauga WWII Burial

Jun 29, 2015

Central Alabama VA Hospital

The Central Alabama Veterans Affairs hospital system has stopped hiring medical support staff in order to cope with a national $2.6 billion budget shortfall.

The hiring freeze in the Central Alabama system affects human resources personnel and customer service workers. It does not affect doctors, nurses or other health care service providers.

VA spokesman Amir Farooqi says the freeze also does not affect staffers who help veterans schedule their doctor appointments.

Farooqi says authorities were prioritizing hiring administrative staffers who support clinical operations, including scheduling. Central Alabama’s system in particular has suffered from lengthy waiting times.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said the $2.6 billion national shortfall is partly caused by an increase in demands from veterans nationwide.

The city of Sylacauga will honor a hometown hero from World War II.

The remains of Lieutenant Jimmie Collins will be buried today, 71 years after he was shot down in a B-24 bomber over the Netherlands. The U.S. Defense Department’s POW-MIA Accounting Agency used DNA evidence to match Collins’ remains to his aunt and uncle.

Agency spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Melinda Morgan says that technology has improved a lot in the past decade or so.

“In the early 2000’s, it would take a long, large bone for us to be able to extract DNA out of it. We’re now able to actually get DNA out of very small fragments. That means we can account for more, because we’re able to match them.”

Collins was co-pilot of a B-24 bomber nicknamed Connie. He and his crewmates were returning from a bombing mission over Berlin, when they were shot down.

Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile didn’t do well in a study of the best and worst cities for families in the U.S.

The personal finance website WalletHub just released that list, and these Alabama towns ranked toward the bottom. Birmingham was second to last.

WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez says Birmingham’s divorce rate was a major contributor as one of the worst cities for families.

“Forty percent of the population is either separated or divorced. That’s the third highest number that we saw here, only behind Cleveland and Detroit. That’s one thing, we are talking about the best and worst for families so we do want to see a high number of families stay together.”

Huntsville came in at 107th, Montgomery at 132nd, and Mobile at 145th out of 150 cities in the study.