Tacoma councilman Ibsen to return early after being sent home from military training

Staff writerJanuary 28, 2014 

Tacoma City Councilman Anders Ibsen said Tuesday evening that he’s back home for good, having left the U.S. Marine Corps reserves after three weeks of training.

Ibsen surprised the council Tuesday by announcing his return from military training nine months earlier than expected. He will rejoin the council on Feb. 11.

In December, the Tacoma City Council allowed Ibsen to take a leave of absence to pursue his dream of military service as permitted by state law. The council appointed Joe Lopez, a Seattle lawyer who lives in the West End and has served on the city’s ethics board, as Ibsen’s temporary replacement.

Many thought Ibsen would be gone until at least November.

Ibsen said he prepared his mind and body for months for the chance of becoming an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. Ibsen said by phone from his District 1 home Tuesday night that all of his preparation wasn’t enough.

“The entire purpose of Marine Officer Candidates School is to break you down, both mentally and physically,” he said. “People on average get three hours of sleep a night and you don’t have enough to eat. Unfortunately it just took its toll on me.”

Ibsen said in a text message Wednesday that medical staff determined he was not physically qualified to continue training and was sent home.

Councilman Ryan Mello praised Ibsen’s try Tuesday night.

“He took his chance of serving our country in the U.S Marine Corps,” Mello said Tuesday night. “At least he can say that he set his mind to it and did what he could to serve in that way.”

The council, which appointed Lopez after interviewing 15 applicants for Ibsen’s seat, had told Lopez that Ibsen could return to his post at any time with two-weeks notice.

That notice came Tuesday morning, hours before Lopez’s fourth council meeting. Ibsen texted a few of his fellow council members that he could not continue training due to medical reasons. The rest of the council found out in an email later that day.
Lopez’s last meeting will be next week.

“It has been a thrilling experience,” Lopez said of his short tenure on the council. “The process by which I was selected to serve on the City Council wasn’t something that would have happened back east where I was raised.”

Ibsen said he doesn’t regret trying to join the Marines, even though he said he’s disappointed that he couldn’t finish. He said he doesn’t plan to try to serve in another branch.

“My appreciation for our young men and women in uniform is greater for the experience,” Ibsen said. ”It made me all the more aware of just what people put themselves through when they serve our great country. ... It takes a certain person to not only volunteer but to endure it willingly.”

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