Mark Heilman, staff emeritus, was presented with the Idaho Distinguished Service Medal on Dec. 18 at Gowen Field by the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard. The prestigious award is given to service members who demonstrate exceptional meritorious service in their careers.
Heilman served in the army, then began a 40-year long career working in veterans outreach with an emphasis in behavioral health and social work services for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and with the National Guard. He spent the past 11 years with Boise State’s Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities (CMEO), recently retiring in December 2020. Heilman received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Boise State in 1978, followed by a master’s degree in social work from the University of Iowa.
He was surprised, he said, to be nominated for the award by retired Air Force veterans he had known and worked with for many years.
“It was very humbling to receive an award like this,” Heilman said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with great people. The award is a reflection of those relationships more than it is of me, and some of those special people were able to attend the award ceremony.”
Heilman shared his experience with Boise State’s Veterans Upward Bound Program, which helps Treasure Valley veterans prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education. The program offers a wide range of support and free services such as classes and tutoring to assistance in writing applications, study preparation, career evaluation and benefit information.
“Mark’s continuous positive persona mixed with his profound belief in the transformational potential of education are qualities that have been incredibly valuable in his work directing the TRIO Veterans Upward Bound program,” said CMEO Director Gregory Martinez. “We were very fortunate to have him at Boise State these last 11 years. Receiving this medal is a very appropriate ending to his meaningful career.”