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The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian movement and an international charitable organization structured in a quasi-military fashion. The organization reports a worldwide membership of over 1.5 million, consisting of soldiers, officers and adherents known as Salvationists. Its founders Catherine and William Booth sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry by meeting both their “physical and spiritual needs” (The Salvation Army, 2017).
Salvation Army officers and soldiers often wear uniforms. The idea that they should do so originated with Elijah Cadman who, at the Salvation Army’s ‘War Congress’ in August 1878 said “I would like to wear a suit of clothes that would let everyone know I meant war to the teeth and salvation for the world”. The uniform identifies the wearer as a Salvationist and a Christian, (The Salvation Army, 2017). It also symbolizes availability to those in need. The uniform takes many forms internationally but is characterized by the ‘S’ insignia for ‘Salvation’ and carries the meaning ‘Saved to serve’, or ‘Saved to save’.
Federal law has reaffirmed The Salvation Army’s authority to provide disaster assistance with the passage of the Robert T. Stafford Emergency and Disaster Assistance Act, which also created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This Act specifically names The Salvation Army as a relief and disaster assistance organization.
Several factors guide The Salvation Army’s role in responding to disasters. These guiding factors include: The Salvation Army has an established right to provide disaster relief services. That right is recognized by public law and through signed Memorandums of Understanding and Agreements (MOUs) with government agencies and other voluntary organizations.
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