2017: Falcons Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award
2018: NFL Salute to Service Award
Garland was recognized in 2018 as the winner of the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, honoring his efforts of support to former and present members of the military. As the winner of the award, Garland received $25,000 from the NFL to be donated to Ben’s military charity of choice, with USAA donating an additional $25,000 to be spread across the five military branches. Following his college career at Air Force, Garland signed with the Denver Broncos. Shortly after, he was placed on the reserve/military list and served two years of active duty. Now as a veteran in the NFL, Garland has traveled on two USO tours, to Italy and Germany followed by Iraq and Kuwait. Additionally, he frequently donates tickets to military members, raises awareness about PTSD, and visits with young members of the military to inspire and encourage them. Garland spends his offseasons as a member of the Colorado Air National Guard, where he works in public affairs.
During the 2019 offseason, members of the 49ers took park in the Second Annual Picnic on the Field, located on the Levi’s Stadium field. Garland and his teammates spent the day taking pictures with fans, who enjoyed music, food and games in support of the 49ers Foundation. The foundation, in conjunction with NFL Huddle for 100, partnered with Amazon to fill 1,000 backpacks full of school supplies. Fans and players joined together to assemble the packs, which were distributed throughout the community to children in need.
Garland is known for his generosity, consistently giving back to the community and volunteering when he can. For this commitment, he was named a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee during the 2017 season with the Falcons. From holiday hospital visits with his teammates to donating money to cancer patients, Garland epitomizes leadership and generosity in his community. The night of the ceremony, Garland displayed his kindness once more, inviting a family he met through charity on stage to give them tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl.
Prior to the 2012 season, Garland was in his second week of training camp with the Denver Broncos, focused on impressing his coaches and teammates. In the midst of camp, he received tragic news: his grandparents’ home, which was located near Denver, was destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire. When he went to survey the damage, he found that two of his prized possessions, his Air Force football helmet and his Academy sabers, presented to him at graduation, could not be salvaged. Upon hearing this news, his Broncos teammates decided to reach out to the Air Force Academy to replace the two items. “Some of those things are hard to get,” Joe Mays, the linebacker who made the arrangements, said. “The fact that we were able to get them is awesome, and even better was that we were able to give them to him.”
NFL players had the opportunity to participate in the NFL’s annual My Cause, My Cleats campaign during a designated home game between Weeks 13-15. Garland and his teammates represented their respective causes with custom-designed cleats in an effort to raise awareness and funding.