Nathan Gale - PTSD? - Uncommon Thought Journal

Nathan Gale - PTSD?

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By Rowan Wolf

Last week the big news was the on-stage murder of Dimebag Darrell Abbott of Damageplan and three others at a concert Alrosa Villa by Nathan Gale. It seemed more than random, but in what way. This week Nightline is running three nights about soldiers returning from Iraq and their problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As many as 1 in 3 of the returning troops may be impacted. Lest one think these items are totally unrelated, Nathan Gale was discharged from the Marines last year for paranoid schizophrenia.

Nathan Gale was with the Second Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While members of this division are, and have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have no idea whether Gale was one of those. Given the deployments, however, it seems there would be a high possibility that he had been in at least one of the two theaters. Was Nathan Gale a victim of combat related PTSD?

But why kill Darrell Abbott? While that is a question that will probably never be answered, there are some tantalizing questions to be asked.

According to a CBS (12/10/04) report Inside The Mind Of A Killer, Gale was a long time Pantera and heavy metal fan. According to an Associated Press report, when Gale was a semi-professional football played he psyched himself up for games by playing Pantera songs. He was also apparently convinced that Pantera had stolen songs that he had written. Abbott had been a member of Pantera before forming Damageplan.

But there is another troublesome issue that links back to military issues. For those of you who watched Fahrenheit 9/11, there was the scene of troops plugged into sound systems blasting heavy metal music as they went into combat. [There was a heated discussion on UTJ around this use of music - Reflections on Fahrenheit 9-11].

So here you have Nathan Gale who was apparently obsessed with Pantera from high school on. He uses blasting heavy metal music to amp himself up for football games. He joins the Marines who are also using the same music for the same purpose to amp folks up for combat. He possibly goes into combat, but we know he is discharged after serving two years in the Marines with a unit that is frequently deployed. He kicks around for a year and then leaps onto stage and kills Abbott. He is then killed himself.

Now I don't want to get into an argument here about music and violence, though it is clear that for Gale that seems to be true, and the military apparently thinks it has some sort of "beneficial" edge for troops. But the connections are alarming. They are more alarming in light of troops coming home from heavy combat who may have certain "triggers" or associations that trigger PTSD episodes. Are we ready for this? We had better be, because I doubt that Nathan Gale is the last veteran who will be suffering on hometown streets.

In The News
CBS Inside The Mind Of A Killer

Marine Corps Times Nightclub slayer had served in Marine Corps

AP Suspect in nightclub shooting liked talking music, played football

2nd Marine Division Homepage

MTV Dimebag Killer's Mom: 'I Bought Him That Gun'


I've heard reports that soldiers coming back from Iraq have been showing up in homeless shelters. If the Feds can't even be bothered to keep recently released ex-soldiers with a roof over their heads, I sadly don't have very high expectations of the Feds dealing with PTSD.

Homeless shelters? Where are their families? It is a sad day when a soldier has no home to go back to. That is the one thing that keeps many of them pushing forward... the hope of going home.

Even if there is a home to return to, after being in combat you just don't fit in anywhere. We haven't learned much since Viet Nam and I don't seeing chaning anytime soon with overcrowded VA hospitals. There are good support groups Veterans for Peace and others who have been there and understand what's going thru your head.

As a psychiatrist, I can tell you that paranoid schizophrenia has very little to do with PTSD. The former is not a consequence of the war trauma like the latter.

Thank you for contributing an expert opinion (this is a sincere thank you). However, this means that the Marines either somehow missed that Gale had paranoid schizophrenia, or that he was stricken with it while in the Marines. If the former, then one has to wonder about their screening, and if the latter?

I do realize that PTSD and schizophrenia are two different problems. Perhaps "service related injury" would be a better term? We don't know if Gale saw combat, nor when his condition emerged - or why. I am hoping that some enterprising investigator has the resources to figure those things out.

I just read the article and the comments. I am currently in the Marines. I got a few things to say. One listening to music to pump you up won't become a trigger to make you want to kill more people, I think it would bring back the memories of killing and make you feel sorrow. Second the Marine Corps puts a lot of stress on people. So its not uncommon for people to drastically change additudes from day to day. I can very easily see how a slight case of paranoid schizophrenia can get unnoticed. Plus that fact that everyone is always rushing around worrying about the mission. I guess what I am trying to say is I wouldn't blame the musics tempo or the Marine Corps lack of help on this tragedy or any other. Some people are just really troubled and there is nothing that others can do to help if they don't help theirselves. Well thats all I got.

Thank you for your contribution and insight. I agree that you can't help those who won't help themselves, but it does concern me that Gale seemed to be just cut loose by the Marine Corps. He may have had problems going in. He certainly had problems coming out - after the Marines had trained him as a Marine. In other words, they trained him to kill.

"...after the Marines had trained him as a Marine. In other words, they trained him to kill"

Rowan, from the reports I have read, Gale "worked as an auto mechanic with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune".

Now I can claim to know whether basic military training in the US would put trainees in "Active" duty. Sure, he would have been trained to some degree on the use of firearms but I don't think his training would have gone so far as to "train him to be a killer"

This is not intended as a dig, and I hope I haven't come over all sacastic like...

Did the late Mr.Gale fight in Iraq ?