Our profession had its modest beginning during the U.S. Civil War. The U.S. Sanitary Commission (USSC) was a private relief agency created by federal legislation on June 18, 1861, to support sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army. It was modeled on the British Sanitary Commission that was set up during the Crimean War (1853–1856) and from the British parliamentary report published after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
In 1864, the USSC took as its symbol the red cross (top right) designed by Henri Dunant in 1863 as an inversion of the Swiss flag. Dunant proposed creating national relief societies made up of volunteers to be trained in peacetime to provide neutral and impartial help to relieve suffering in times of war.
The inscription on the back of the badge (bottom right) reads: U.S. Sanitary Commission Army [of the] Potomac 1864–1865.
The embroidered hat device (bottom left) was worn by a USSC officer circa 1864.