American Red Cross, Aviano Air Base


The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization led by volunteers and guided by its Congressional Chapter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross.  The organization provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prepare for and respond to emergencies. The American Red Cross received a charter from Congress, which was amended in 1905, and is still in effect today. This Congressional Charter is our Mission: "The American Red Cross is the instrument chosen by the Congress to help carry out the obligations assumed by the United States under certain international treaties known as the Geneva or the Red Cross conventions. Specifically, its congressional charter imposed on the American Red Cross the duties to act as the medium of voluntary relief and communication between the American people and their armed forces, and to carry on a system of national and international relief to prevent and mitigate the suffering caused by disaster. All the activities of the American Red Cross are governed by its chapters support these duties." Nationally and locally, the American Red Cross is governed by volunteers, most of its duties are performed by volunteers, and it is financed by voluntary contributions. A change in the Red Cross mission would require an Act of Congress. 

Clara Barton, the famous Civil War nurse and advocate for aid to the wounded and victims of natural disasters founded the American Red Cross in 1881. She and her American Association of the Red Cross, as the organization was first called, pressured President Chester Arthur into signing the first Geneva Convention in 1882, bringing the United States into compliance with Red Cross principles. In 1900 the renamed American National Red Cross received a congressional charter establishing the organization as the nation's official relief agency for civilians and military personnel and made it accountable to-although not funded by-Congress. In 1905, the ARC received a revised charter from Congress under which it still operates. This charter expanded the organization's responsibilities and created an executive structure for a more orderly and systematic way of doing business than had occurred before. In 1919, largely at the urging of ARC president, Henry P. Davison, the League of Red Cross Societies was formed (it became the Federation in 1991). In earlier times, organizations of the Movement were the primary providers of relief to the victims of war and natural disasters. Since World War II, activities are coordinated with a host of other organizations, such as the agencies of the United Nations (the High Commissioner for Refugees, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the UN Development Program, and UNICEF, the Children's Fund), Oxfam, and others. The world still relies heavily on the dedicated work of the organizations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, including the American Red Cross, to bring relief to the suffering and to advance the cause of international humanitarian law. The American Red Cross makes families and communities safe at home and around the world. As a volunteer led humanitarian organization, it annually provides almost half of the nation's blood supply. It also trains millions of people in lifesaving skills, relief to victims of disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to nearly 3 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in other countries, and transmits over a million emergency messages to members of the U.S. Armed forces and their families. The ARC is dedicated to the Fundamental Principles of the Movement. It participates in all movement activities such as, supporting the role of the ICRC in conflict zones, and working alongside other national societies in the Federation and in bilateral arrangements on a wide variety relief and disaster prevention activities. It also provides a major amount of financial support to the ICRC and the Federation.