SEMBACH, Germany – One of the benefits of working for the federal government is the ability to work abroad. Many focus on countries with high populations of U.S. citizens like Germany, Italy or South Korea. For James Cahill, he picked a country that probably is not near the top of most people’s list.“I deployed as the senior medical advisor to the Ukraine Minister of Defense and also advised the National Guard, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior,” said Cahill. “I was there for three years, from January 2017 to January 2020.”Cahill, who has worked for Regional Health Command Europe as a health system specialist since 2015, took advantage of the civilian expeditionary workforce program.“I had been following the news and knew there was a need developing in Ukraine,” he said. “At that time, I had reached a point in my career where I wanted to give back and make an impact in a challenging environment. When the deployment opportunity was posted, I felt a strong desire to help out in whatever way I could.”Cahill had to go through several months of training before starting the position.“I started training in October 2016,” he said. “It was rigorous and comprehensive. It was some of the best training I’ve experienced. It covered operational security, language, culture, history, and communication and advising techniques.”Cahill was responsible for facilitating medical defense reform in Ukraine. At the time, the Ukraine MOD had just received a five-year reform plan called the Strategic Defense Bulletin. The goal was for Ukraine to move steadily toward NATO interoperability.“The nature of my deployment demonstrated a commitment by the United States and complimented the work being coordinated by the U.S. Army Europe Surgeon’s Office,” said Cahill.By leveraging relations with the U.K., Canada, Germany and other NATO organizations in-country, Cahill was able to help improve the Main Military Medical Directorate of the Ministry of Defense’s ability to improve and maintain relationships and tell their story on the international stage.For example, Ukraine hosted two very successful Multinational Military Medical Engagement conferences in 2017 and 2019 and they are now participating in regular NATO medical exercises and NATO military medical conferences. This improves Ukraine’s overall military medical interoperability.“When you serve as a Ministry of Defense Advisor, you are completely immersed in the partner nation’s challenges,” he said. “They are complex and require building relationships with all stakeholders. You are part of a government & international team striving toward a common goal.”After three years in Ukraine, Cahill speaks highly of the civilian expeditionary workforce program.“After 28 years of federal service, it was by far the most challenging, but also most rewarding, time in my career,” he said. “There is a certain time in your career where you hear the sound of chaos and wonder if you are up for that challenge. Once you commit, you have to embrace it and your time is what you make of it.”The Department of Defense Expeditionary Civilian program allows civilians to apply their capability, experience, and knowledge as a crucial part of helping the DoD accomplish its mission abroad. More information can be found at is responsible for the health care, public health, dental and veterinary services for Soldiers, their families and Department of Defense beneficiaries throughout Europe. For more information, visit