WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- It took just seconds for Sgt. Nathan Watson of the Georgia National Guard to suffer serious arm wounds in an ambush in Afghanistan.
It took just minutes after that for him to race down from his gun turret and drive his armored vehicle out of harm's way.
For hisheroic actions, he was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart.
Watson is now home in Woodstock, and it has been a long waiting game for him to receive his disability benefits. He has already waited nearly a year, and that timeframe could double.
For Watson, it was a no-win situation.
He has lost the use of his left hand due to his war injury. He is now being told by the Veterans Administration that hewill haveto wait for his disability benefits. Watson saysno matter how often he calls the VA, he gets the same answer.
It could be some 400 days before he could see any resolution of his case.
11Alive's Help Deskcontacted the Veterans Administration, and after two days were told thatWatson's case was being expedited. The couldn't give any timeframe as to when any sort of resolution could be expected.
The next step was to escalate the matter to the next level -- and that was to take the matter to US Sen. Johnny Isakson in Washington.
"Do you think this is just the tip of the iceberg, do you see this kind of thing happening throughout Georgia?" asked 11Alive's Bill Liss.
"Unfortunately it is pretty typical of what has happened at the VA with the tremendous load coming from Afghanistan and Iraq," Isakson said.
"Is there anything you think that can be done in Washington to try and close this gap -- 400 days? That's almost unheard of," Liss said.
"I am on the Veterans Committee and we held hearingstwo months ago with (Veterans Affairs) Secretary Eric Shinseki, who is putting in place a program to expedite the evaluation of disabilities and to speed it both from a manpower standpoint as well as an integrated system standpoint and we are going to keep the pressure on," Isakson said.
After pressure was applied, the 400 days Watson was facing was cut to four, as he received his benefits.
"I've had more phone calls in the past 2 days than I've had in the past year," Watson said. "As of right now I am getting paid VA benefits and my first check will be delivered on July 1."
In that check, will be thousands of dollars of back pay. He's also going to receivea monthly stipend going forward.