Former Batlow resident Marcaus Muller has been able to spend the past few days back in his home town, but not under the best circumstances.
As an Australian Army chaplain with the Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, Chaplain Muller has been offering care to troops and civilians as part of the Australian Defence Force's bushfire aid response.
"I was born in Batlow, mum and dad sold up and moved to Albury in 1977, I was in grade two at the time and lived out on a farm just south of Batlow," he said.
Chaplain Meller joined the army to work in electronics and signals before joining a program to study theology and became an ordained Baptist minister.
"My wife and I lost our homes in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and that is what turned the corner for me to go into some form of ministry," he said.
Once the government approved a military response to the fires, Chaplain Muller's unit was sent south.
"A request was made in the evening brief that they needed a chaplain at the Batlow recovery centre," he said. "I told the coordinating chaplain that my unit was going to Tumut and that's just down the road from Batlow.
"I said 'I was born there, I know the area, I lost my own home in a bushfire; I think there's a natural fit here'."
Chaplain Muller said it was "very good happenstance" that he has been able to care for soldiers as well as his home town.
"Because of the enormity of what they have been through, some people don't know how to respond," he said.
"Our key message is that it's OK to respond, no matter what that response is."