ATLANTA – On Wednesday morning the NFL announced that Falcons offensive lineman Ben Garland was the winner of the 2018 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, making him the third-straight member of the Falcons organization to win the award.
Garland, who graduated from the Air Force Academy and serves as a current member of the Colorado Air National Guard, went on two separate USO tours in 2018 and has been active in supporting the military through various programs.
"It's absolutely incredible," Garland said of winning the award. "I just love the fact that the Falcons have won it three years in a row. Being a part of an organization where you're the tip of the spear and you're at the forefront of the league in showing how it is and how you can give back to the military community and just thank them for what they're doing for us."
Garland joins kick returner Andre Roberts and head coach Dan Quinn as members of the Falcons organization who have received the Salute to Service Award.
Since joining the Falcons in 2015, Quinn has made it a priority for the organization to show support for the military, creating a culture that embraces many of the Armed Forces' principles.
"It makes me want to play all that much harder for him," Garland says of Quinn's regard for the military. "What an incredible leader. They gave me the award this year, but that man does so much.
"He goes out of his way and does so much for the military that it makes me have so much more respect for him and want to play that much harder for him. He's just a good man and I love the opportunity to play for him."
Quinn isn't the only leader in the Falcons organization to put their appreciation of the military into action. Garland said Arthur Blank sets a standard that players and coaches can follow, and AMB Group CEO Steve Cannon joined Garland, Quinn and others on their USO tour to Iraq and Kuwait over the summer.
The culture of appreciation for servicemen and servicewomen the Falcons have created has begun to get the attention of players around the league, Garland explained. When players ask about what it's like in other locker rooms Garland has a ready-made answer.
By winning their third-straight Salute to Service Award, it's clear the culture of military gratitude the Falcons have established has had a large impact.
"It feels good to give back," Garland said. "When you make someone's day, but not only that, you make someone's day who's just a good person. It's one thing to go help a random stranger, but when you know that stranger is a brave, selfless, courageous person who is going out of their way to serve the country and sacrificing so much for you, and then you make their day, that means so much more to you."
The NFL and USAA announced that G Ben Garland is the recipient of the 2018 Salute to Service Award. The award acknowledges the efforts by members of the NFL community to honor and support members of the military community. Garland is the third-straight member of the Atlanta Falcons to win the award.