Dr. Varoujan Altebarmakian, noted leader in the health care industry and a devoted servant of the Western Diocese, was the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in ceremonies held on Ellis Island on May 11, 2013.
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, stated “This is a well deserved tribute to someone who has contributed to America through his personal and professional life, while honoring and retaining his Armenian heritage. We join with the Armenian faithful in extending our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Altebarmakian and his family.”
The Ellis Island Medal of Honor was founded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations and intended to pay homage to the immigrant experience. The honorees are said to “exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage.” The Medals of Honor celebrate the diversity of American life, honoring not only individuals, but the pluralism and democracy that have enabled ancestry groups to maintain their identities while becoming integral parts of the American Way of Life.
Dr. Altebarmakian has had a distinguished career in the field of medicine and health care industry. He was elected as the Physician-in-Chief of the Fresno Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in 1991 and in 2011 was re-elected for a third six year term. Dr. Altebarmakian has helped promote assistance to the underserved within Fresno through community benefit programs.
Dr. Altebarmakian has made significant community contributions in the United States, most notably as a servant of God in the Armenian Apostolic Church. He has been a Deacon of the Armenian Apostolic Church since 1985. He has served as a member of St. James Armenian Church Parish Council in Sacramento and as a member of St. Paul Armenian Church Parish Council in Fresno. He has demonstrated leadership with his service as a member of the Diocesan Council of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church for twelve years, most of that time as its Chairman. His community contributions in Armenia include his service as a member of the Supreme Spiritual Council of Armenian Church; and as a member of the Board of Directors of Mer Hooys, a California non-profit organization to assist young female adults in Armenia to break the cycle of dependency.
Dr. Altebarmakian is well known for his contributions to the American community which includes service as a member of the Board of Directors of the Fresno Philharmonic; member of the Fresno Rotary Club; and member of the Board of Directors of the Fresno Business Council. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Armenian School in Fresno; a member of the Advisory Board of Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State University and a member of the Knights of Vartan, Yeprad Lodge.
Approximately 100 Medalists are honored each year. Past Medalists include six Presidents, as well as Nobel Prize winners and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government. This year nine recipients, including Dr. Altebarmakian, were of Armenian descent. The recipients were Shoghag Hovanessian from New Jersey; Hratch Kaprielian from New Jersey; Aso Tavitian from New York; Dertad Manguikian, M.D. from Virginia; Hon. Gregory Melikian from Arizona; Silvia Tchakmakjian from Los Angeles; Vahe Yacoubian, M.D. from Glendale; and Ara Kevork Karajerjian from Glendale.