Attention Readers
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, C & G Newspapers has temporarily suspended its print publications. We look forward to resuming our print operation in the coming weeks. In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter. We hope you stay healthy and safe.
 Legislation waiving passport fees for family members obtaining a passport to visit an injured service member overseas was recently advanced by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The act was introduced after the family of Master Sgt. Billy Scalf, left, could not initially visit him last year at a hospital. Scalf, pictured with former Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, was an aircraft crew chief at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Legislation waiving passport fees for family members obtaining a passport to visit an injured service member overseas was recently advanced by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The act was introduced after the family of Master Sgt. Billy Scalf, left, could not initially visit him last year at a hospital. Scalf, pictured with former Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, was an aircraft crew chief at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Photo provided by 127th Wing Public Affairs


Legislation related to Selfridge crew chief advances

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 20, 2020

Advertisement

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A situation that began with local ties has now resulted in a federal act being advanced.

It was announced March 5 that the House Foreign Affairs Committee had advanced the No Passport Fees for Heroes’ Families Act.

The act waives passport fees for family members obtaining a passport to visit an injured service member overseas.

The bill was introduced in May 2019 by U.S. Reps. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden; Abigail Spanberger, D-Virginia; Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina; and Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia.

The legislation was authorized after a family in Mitchell’s district did not have a passport and could not initially visit an injured loved one overseas. That injured loved one is Master Sgt. Billy Scalf, an aircraft crew chief who for 30 years served at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.

“Now that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved it, it will have to go to the House floor for a vote,” Molly Harrington, the director of operations for Mitchell, said earlier this month.

In January 2019, Scalf was undergoing treatment after suffering two strokes while serving with the Michigan Air National Guard in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Doctors told Scalf the cause of the strokes was that he had two tumors with blood clots in his brain at separate times.

“A hole was found in my heart, bigger than most,” Scalf said.

Doctors operated on his heart and closed the hole.

Scalf, 56, of Warren, said he is in therapy three times a week, and due to his condition, he believes he probably won’t be able to work anymore.

“It’s not a choice of mine; it’s just the way it is,” he said. “Over the last month, I’ve realized my hand shakes all the time and everything on my right side shakes all the time.”

Scalf spent five months in three hospitals, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

He heard about the act and said it is a big deal that action is being taken to care for families who may encounter a similar situation in the future.

“If my wife and people from the base couldn’t have come and saw me, I probably wouldn’t have had a lot of this stuff done as far as keeping my pay going and overseeing my care,” Scalf said.

He had been in Afghanistan only a couple of weeks before the strokes.

“They helped me out quite a bit from the base,” Scalf said of the support he’s received from the Selfridge community. “The care I’ve received afterward from the base and from the medical side has been great. They are taking care of me so well, I can’t believe it. I am probably one of the luckiest people around.”

After Scalf’s strokes, Mitchell reportedly called the White House to expedite Scalf’s wife, Cherie Scalf, getting a passport issued on a Sunday so she could meet him at a German hospital where he was taken after being airlifted out of Afghanistan.

Cherie Scalf received the news of her husband’s health situation after normal business hours on a Friday.

The act states that the bill would waive the fee for the issuance of a passport for a family member of a member of the U.S. armed forces who is in a hospital or medical facility abroad, and for other purposes.

In 2019, former 127th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum said it was a situation where the unit wasn’t going to wait around for a weekend.

A call was made to Mitchell, whose district includes Selfridge. The first priority was getting Cherie Scalf to Germany to be with her husband, which was an issue because she didn’t have a passport.

After contacting the White House, Mitchell arranged a Sunday morning appointment at a U.S. State Department office in Chicago. That is where a passport was issued, and Cherie Scalf was sent on her way to Germany to be with her husband.

If the bill is passed by the House, it will need to go through the same process in the Senate. If both chambers approve it, it will go to the president to be signed.

Advertisement