N4T Investigators: Social insecurity update - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Social insecurity update

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Martha McSally and Jon Iniguez Martha McSally and Jon Iniguez

TUCSON - A congresswoman, a new Marine, and a News 4 Tucson viewer were recognized for their roles in a young man's dream that almost didn't come true. More on this ceremony later.

"Some kids want to be rock stars or astronauts," Jon Iniguez says. "I've always to be a marine. it's been a dream of mine since I was in grade school."

Indeed, the Tucson resident dressed-up as a Marine for Halloween when he was 11.  Now 21, we first met Jon last fall, when he was working construction. He was scheduled to report for basic training this past January. But then a bill came from the Social Security Administration, saying Jon owes the agency nearly $17,000, due to overpayments of disability benefits paid over many years to his parents. 

He said when he saw the bill, "It was terrifying, you know? No one wants to open a letter saying, 'Hey, you owe 17-thousand dollars.' Especially if you don't know from what or understand why." 

Jon's parents couldn't pay the bill, and neither could he. The military has regulations regarding debt and his Marines ship-out date was possibly going to be postponed. Then, a News 4 Tucson viewer called us.

Judy didn't want to be identified. She's an 80-year-old widow, with no military connections, just a big heart. A heart so big she gave Jon, a total stranger, a check for $17,000. "I wanted to do this because...don't make me cry because I feel sorry for people.

Jon told her, "I'll pay it forward, I promise. Thank you. That's incredible." He told us, "I was just surprised and overwhelmed. It's just crazy to think about, I still can't believe it. It's still not real to me." 

Minutes later, Jon received a call from someone else who'd seen our report, Rep. Martha McSally,  Her staff got Social Security to wipe-out Jon's entire debt.

After we told Judy that Jon's debt was erased, she said he could keep the $17,000 she gave him. Jon was surprised again. "I don't know what to say. That's wonderful. I can't thank her enough. I'm very grateful."

Jon reported to basic training in San Diego in January and graduated April 7. Private First Class Jon Iniguez is back in Tucson briefly.He told us, "Carrying this title of marine, it's a dream come true. There's no other way to describe it. I don't know how you describe a dream come true. It's just a great feeling." 

He said the strangers who helped him are never far from his thoughts. "Of course I thought of them. There's those times that you're going through basic training that everyone has, you know it's at those moments where you doubt yourself, you doubt yourself, can you do this, can you make it through? and you have to think of those people who are counting on you and support you to get to this moment. And you know you can't let them down."

Back to that ceremony. A group of Marine veterans, the Leathernecks Motorcycle club, gathered in Rep. McSally's office to recognize Jon, McSally and Judy,  who's now fine with being identified with Jon.

Judy said, "He changed so much. I don't want to say he's more mature, but he's so fit and he's so excited and enthused and I think he's going to make a wonderful marine.

McSally said, "I'm so proud of Jon,  I mean, look at him in his uniform, and standing proud, as a new Marine. It's amazing."

Jon says, "Without them, I wouldn't be here today.

Next up for Jon: two months at infantry school at Camp Pendleton. He leaves on May 2, for the next step in his dream, come true.

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