ATLANTA – Atlanta Falcons guard Ben Garland was named the recipient of the 2018 Salute to Service Award on Wednesday morning, becoming the third consecutive member of the Falcons organization to earn the award.
"I am honored to win the award, but, honestly, I am just honored to be part of an organization that puts military first from the top down, from Arthur Blank to our head coach [Dan Quinn]," Garland said in a statement. "They do so much for our military and I am proud to be with an organization that is the spear in the NFL of showing how to do it right and how to truly give back and say thank you to the military members that absolutely deserve it."
Garland traveled on two separate USO tours in 2018: first to Italy and Germany in the spring and then later to Iraq and Kuwait with fellow Falcons players and coaches in the summer.
After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 2009, Garland was stationed at Scott Air Force Base as a 2nd Lt. from 2010-12. Garland still serves as a current member of the Colorado Air National Guard and is an active advocate for the TAPS program.
"From his time at the Air Force Academy and continuing throughout his NFL playing career, Ben Garland has embodied and demonstrated the understanding and appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the U.S. military and their families for which this award stands," said Vice Adm. (Ret.) John Bird, USAA's senior vice president of military affairs. "In the true spirit of the 'Salute to Service Award presented by USAA,' we salute Ben for his tireless effort to support our military, veterans, and their families, as well as his own service to our country as a member of the Colorado Air National Guard."
Garland was signed by the Falcons in 2015 as a member of their practice squad. Garland has held a spot on the team's active roster in each of the last three seasons and has started seven games during that time.
This is the third-straight year in which an Atlanta player or coach has won the NFL's Salute to Service Award. Kick returner Andre Roberts won the award in 2017, and Falcons coach Dan Quinn won the award in 2016.
Garland will be recognized as the Salute to Service winner at "NFL Honors," a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 2, the eve of Super Bowl LIII, at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.