Honorees Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis and Dr. Panagiotis Behrakis, third and fourth from right, with their awards, with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and AHI President Nick Larigakis, second and first from right. Other officers of AHI look on.
The Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award was presented to two honorees at the 14th Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner held at The Grande Bretagne hotel in Athens on May 18, 2018.
Dr. Panagiotis Behrakis was recognized for his tireless efforts to combat tobacco usage in the youth of Greece. The Hellenic Armed Forces was honored for its illustrious achievements throughout history in the defense of Greece’s sovereignty, their defense and promotion of peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, and their commitment to defense cooperation with the United States and NATO. They were represented by Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.
In his acceptance remarks, Dr. Behrakis stated, “It is a great honor to receive the AHI Award of 2018.” He also provided an overview of the work that he and his team created in their efforts to prevent the consumption of tobacco in Greece’s youth over the past decade.
“Smoking prevalence in Greece has declined and it is now very close to the European average,” he said. “Consumption of tobacco has also decreased by 50 percent in the past decade and most importantly the Greek public has changed it attitude towards smoking.”
Dr. Behrakis has created a scientific based practice of approaching youth and tobacco prevention without using negative imagery or fear tactics.
“The award of today is dedicated to George Behrakis, the philanthropist from Boston,” he stated in his closing remarks, “a man who has been generously funding our work for the last ten years. Without him nothing would have happened.” George Behrakis is a Chairman Emeritus of leadership 100.
Admiral Apostolakis acknowledged the overall contribution and cooperation of AHI toward the promotion of relations between the United States and Greece. Furthermore, he commented the award does not reflect personally on him, but on all the personnel of the Hellenic Armed Forces—active and retired. He pinpointed the men and women of the Hellenic Armed Forces as the key force multiplier, underlining the excellent level of training and professionalism as well as their high morale.
Regarding the role of the Hellenic Armed Forces in the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean, he emphasized its significant impact in providing stability which is achieved mainly through the formation of bilateral and multilateral schemes of military cooperation. Furthermore, he highlighted the multilayered support the Hellenic Armed Forces provides in areas of disaster response and relief, firefighting, medevac and others.
Ilias Malevitis, President, AHI-Greece, welcomed the audience. George C. Economou, President, AHI-Athens Chapter, provided greetings and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, in opening remarks, thanked AHI “for its long history of advocating for Greece and Greek Americans,” which he said, “strengthens the U.S. government and the profound partnership and friendship between our two countries.”
AHI President Nick Larigakis, in addressing the audience, highlighted the objectives of AHI’s annual trip to Greece and Cyprus and updated the audience on AHI programs that keep the Greek American community’s policy issues at the forefront of policymakers in Washington. He also commended the evening’s honorees. He said Dr. Behrakis has performed remarkable work to improve the public health of Greece’s youth population through public awareness and advocacy campaigns to combat tobacco use. He lauded the Hellenic Armed Forces for its storied history, dating back to antiquity with history-changing battles at Thermopylae and Salamis, to the struggle for Independence, to World War II and Korea, to present-day efforts to provide security and counterterrorism as a dependable NATO member.