One important but perhaps less tangible role in Operation Bushfire Assist is the one being performed by military chaplains.
The presence of a uniform – whether it’s Army green, Air Force blue or CFA orange – can help people cope.
No one knows this better than the military chaplains who provide pastoral and spiritual care to thousands of people affected by the fires and the uniformed members helping them.
And it’s not just Australian chaplains.
Papua New Guinea Defence Force Chaplain Benstead Bareta said meeting people was different from cutting trees, but it was part and parcel of being human and helped just as much.
“I meet them, share with them and I feel good. I feel blessed to meet a person who has been traumatised and have the opportunity to share a verse from the bible, or just any phrase or sentence of hope," Chaplain Bareta said.
“Everywhere we go, they’re thankful, saying ‘thank you for coming all this way’ and ‘thank you very much, you’re a blessing’. They’re uplifted and happy.
“When they are happy, I am happy, but when they are sad, I empathise with them. I feel for them.”
Chaplain Bareta, with his Australian Army counterpart Chaplain Chris Booth, travelled throughout the Victorian high country, talking to everyday people, volunteers and soldiers.
Along their travels, they’ve helped with food deliveries, distributed medicines and talked to many people.
Their mission is to show people they’re not alone and connect them with the help available.
“I’m very aware of the big and little things. Whether it’s something like fixing a fence or if I detect mental health concerns,” Chaplain Booth said.
He said the soldiers were smart, highly skilled and quick to think everything is an engineering job.
“But they’re also extremely good at talking to families and kids, be a helpful distraction and get them to forget about what life has been like," he said.
“It’s an absolute privilege to walk alongside people and be the one they vent, cry or chat to, it’s fantastic.”