VA claims rep Robert Laguban went the extra mile to help an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with PTSD. Photo by Steve Brooks.

Claims rep delivers for fellow veteran


Since the 1940s, The American Legion and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs have enjoyed a unique partnership. State claims representatives – many of whom are Legionnaires – handle the hundreds of new Department of Veterans Affairs federal claims each month. The claims representatives are accredited through the Legion’s service officers program and advocate on behalf of all claims that go through the state, including the more than half that have given power of attorney to The American Legion. The relationship allows American Legion Department of Minnesota service officers to expand their areas of responsibility to include outreach at VA medical facilities, conducting Heroes to Hometowns programs and working with veterans to obtain education benefits.

Recently, one of Minnesota’s claims reps made an enormous difference in the life of an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran suffering from PTSD who had become suicidal. Michael Saniti had reportedly held a gun to his own head while threatening to kill himself, and had even gone so far as to write his own obituary and send it to a local paper.

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs in St. Paul heard the story, and claims rep Robert Laguban – himself a Vietnam War combat veteran – sprang into action. Saniti already had a VA rating, but Laguban was able to fast-track an increase to Saniti’s disability rating and personally deliver the news to the 28-year-old Saniti, who is married and is the father of four children.

“It’s just a veteran helping another veteran,” Laguban said. “We need to take care of each other.”

To see more about the story, click here.


  1. KUDOS to the claims rep in the story for being attentive to the needs of the veteran in his office that day. If anyone is interested, I see dozens of veterans ALL THE TIME for help. My fiance's phone and my phone will often ring at 2am with veterans who cannot sleep because of fear, worry, doubt and serious financial concerns. Or the calls that I dread most: when the veteran's spouse or significant other calls me because her loved one is in FULL FLASHBACK MODE all by himself in their living room, screaming that he is surrounded by people. (Just in case you were wondering how we dealt with that one, I ensured that she and their children were in another room completely and that she start frying bacon and brewing coffee, as these smells will help pull him out of the flashback. There is never I time, that I can think of, where coffee and bacon are ever associated with something bad, so those and fresh baked bread or an apple pie are good choices if you are facing a situation like that. And in the meantime, I had my fiance, a 2 time combat Marine veteran, talk him down on the other phone. Instructing him that those people that he was seeing were only civilians and that he was to "stand down" as he had already been properly relieved from duty.) After that, we had another veteran friend push the VA to get him some in-patient treatment before the flashbacks went violent. Even after stories like that (and I have TONS of stories like those), we still have to wait for our Local Regional Office to surface from under their self-induced back-logs of claims. Who knows when that will happen... In the meantime, our veterans are SUFFERING.
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