A special welcome to the new members of the Raw Man Team. When Billy Holder set up our site five months ago, I made a promise to all who support my endeavor of carrying the message to all veterans suffering from PTSD . First the message: There is hope for all who suffer from this terrible condition for a life free of trauma and suffering. Secondly the promise; that I would donate all of my profits from the sale of tee-shirts to a worthy cause for the veteran still suffering.Somewhere along the line, the term Veteran was replaced with Warrior. To quote a line from Raw Man, “This happened as everything else happened, without me even noticing it.” One of the first organizations that I approached with the proposal of donating money was Wounded Warriors. It seems like they felt my donation would be too small and they not only scoffed at my idea but told me, “We don’t help Vietnam Veterans.” I guess we were not Warriors to them but as I say in my KPBS radio interview, “the Vietnam Veteran remains America’s bastard son.” They treated me with much the same disdain as the American public did when we returned from the war. My friend David Gebhard was kind enough to send me the following link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/04/wounded-warrior-charity-unleashes-hell-on-other-veteran-groups.html I hope that you take the time to read this article and see why I have decided to donate my money to Veteran’s Village Of San Diego. http://www.vvsd.net/ A cause that has welcomed the donation of Raw Man tee-shirts and where I suggest you consider reading more about them and maybe donating some of your time or money to this worthy cause. Leave no Veteran BehindRaw Man
On this day in 1975, people all over Saigon, listened intently to Armed Forces Radio. It was one song they were listening for on that hot muggy April day. Bags packed. Three days of food at the ready, they listened. When it came on, thousands of people who worked for the Americans scrambled to their pre-arranged pick up points. The song was White Christmas by Bing Crosby. One such point was the American Embassy. My wife Lynda and I sat transfixed to our little TV in our two room apartment on Los Higos in Alhambra. The iconic scene of the people scrambling up that ladder to the roof of the Embassy and those waiting on the ground, screaming, panicking, pushing and pulling one another for better position for escape. They were the ones who worked for the CIA, who knew they would be executed if they did not leave. Maids, cooks, drivers, interpreters, all levels of people who had worked for the biggest employer of Saigon, the United States government. And now the boss was leaving behind tanks, aircraft, artillery pieces of all sizes and small arms enough that the North Vietnamese would not have to buy weapons for years. Most importantly was the human misery that we were leaving behind on the ground. We just could not get them all out! And with his father not letting go of his little arm in that sad morass of unplanned chaos, my good friend Que miraculously made it out.
Here’s to you Que and the first wave of Vietnamese immigrants that made it out that day. Welcome home.
I re-visited Vietnam in 1995 as a sober man with eight years of consoling behind me. I was not prepared for what I saw. The people at that time under the age of 20 had no direct experience with the war. I found that the general population referred to it as the American War. And so it was. We invaded their country and dropped more bombs on them than we dropped on Europe during WW2. But I found the people loving to Americans. I found much needed personal forgiveness. I wrote Raw Man, to educate people about the war in Vietnam. Now, my generation is reaching their mid to late sixties. I hope that the young people of America are educated about this most important part of our collective history. Please watch the movie I am clipping to this post. It is educating and shows the passion and ignorance of people on both sides. It was truly a divided America that we lived in. I thank my good friends David Gebhard and Scott Seidman for sending me this link:
An Email from my publisher: Please read it all. Great news!
Hello everyone! In my efforts to get out the news that Fred Rivera’s RAW MAN is a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards, under the category of Best Latino Focused Fiction, I neglected to scroll down to see that he is also a finalist in THE BIG ONE! The Mariposa Award for BEST FIRST BOOK.
It is mid April and I feel that I have not been keeping up with my blog. Those of you who read Raw Man will be happy to know that I have started my second novel. Tentatively called The Road To Que. Experience has taught me that this is just a first draft working title. Raw Man was called Youth In Asia for eight years. The idea for the new work came to me in a flash, just as Raw Man did. It is exciting when this happens. I have the characters but I know their personalities will shape their dialog and characteristics as they come to life on the page. Just as Gordo and the Australians gave birth to themselves, the new ones will do the same thing. I am full of joy.
This novel is full of research. I have ten books and countless magazines and internet postings to read. I have interviews to do. This writing career has given new life to mine and I cherish it. My music career gave me great adventures and exotic places to visit. The writing is giving me the same so far.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
I was once overcome by staring into the darkness for too long. Now, I seek the light that abounds around me everyday.
Click below to listen to Freds interview on the Mid Day edition of KPBS
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: A Word withYou Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
On August 2nd 1964, I was a sophomore at Montebello High School, driving over the old wooden bridge on Bluff Road to visit my best friend, Scott. As I reached the center of the bridge, a newsflash came over the car radio that the North Vietnamese had just attacked the USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. The first thought that entered my mind was: I’m going to war. I forgot about it by the time I pulled into Scott’s driveway.
Five years later I found myself a soldier in the United States Army in the jungles of Vietnam. What came out of that experience defined my existence. I went there a boy and came back a raw man. Aged beyond my 21 years and unprepared for the troubled years to come. I was witness to death, cruelty, and a war so brutal that I was scarred from the time I first searched a dead body to the day I discovered that our military managed to kill 430,000 South Vietnamese civilians.
In 1970, it was no surprise that 65 percent of American servicemen abused drugs. We were sent there alone, and returned home alone, 58,000 of us in body bags. Those of us who survived carried back a collective shame to a nation that hated us. Yes, it is true: I was spat upon and called a baby killer at the San Francisco Airport.
My time in the field left me with deep, chronic back pain and PTSD so severe that I have had episodes where I have actually felt like I was back in the Nam. Like so many combat veterans, I found myself continuing to self-medicate upon my return to civilian life. There was nobody that I felt I could talk to about my experiences. Who could possibly understand? I found my way back into the music business and none of my new, or old friends ever heard me speak a word about Vietnam. It was a shameful secret that I kept to myself. I became a Winter Warrior. First came the heavy drinking and eventually the hard drugs arrived. I sank lower and lower into the depths of alcoholism.
In 1974 I was given my first miracle. I met and married the most beautiful, caring, and sympathetic woman, Lynda Gomez, without whose unconditional love and support, I doubt that I would be alive today. She breathed fresh hope into me and stood by my side through the darkest days of my life, always doing her best to love a broken man. She gave me the precious gift of three wonderful children. Always running through my mind was the thought that God would take one back to settle the debt of taking that boy’s life in the Nam. After years of replaying the events of that fateful day in my mind, I am certain it was me, and not Benson, who fired that fatal round.
There were problems with the births of all three of our children. We lost a fourth. Did God collect my toll? My daughter was born with a 50 percent chance of survival. A doctor asked me if I was ever exposed to Agent Orange. I thought of that old crop duster flying over us and nodded my head. Our youngest son, Nathan, was in neo-natal intensive care for close to two months. He fought for his little life and still, I could not get sober. At the time of this writing, he is a healthy young man of 27.
Twenty-seven is a big number for me. Having thrown all of my medals, ribbons, and awards into that coffin at the peace rally in Griffith Park in 1970, I realized that the war was over for me and now I had children. I wanted to have something to leave them to remember me by. The year was 1987. I was driving down Beverly Boulevard with a beer between my legs when I saw a building with a sign that said: “Vet Center.” I had driven on that road hundreds of times and never noticed it before. The thought crossed my mind that maybe they could help me recover my medals.
I walked in the front door and was greeted by a friendly woman. I explained my dilemma and she straightaway told me that yes, yes she could get them from St. Louis. I was pleased and slightly buzzed. She searched my face and saw right through me.
“I have no problem helping you with your wish, but are you willing to do something for me?” she asked.
“We are a separate entity from the VA. We receive our funding solely on the amount of traffic we can generate. We are an outreach program and as long as you’re here, would you mind filling out a small questionnaire?” she maintained that trusty smile and I told her I would be happy to do it.
What could it hurt? I asked myself. We sat across from each other at her desk, and she pulled a form from her top drawer. She handed it to me along with a pen. I opened it up and saw the standard questions: Name, rank, years served, marital status, all innocuous questions that I quickly answered and turned the page. The first question on the next page made me break into a cold sweat.
“Did you ever kill anyone?”
I started trembling softly. The questions were all along the same line and when I reached question seven, my heart stopped and a tremendous force screamed within me and I felt the dam about to break.
“DID ANYONE EVER DIE IN YOUR ARMS?” The dam burst with such incredible power that I almost knocked her off her chair. I broke down crying like I had never cried before. Before long I was telling her that I was an alcoholic and cocaine addict. I had never uttered those truthful words before. She stood up and embraced me and I cried some more. All the hurt, guilt, shame, and remorse that I had carried around for the last seventeen years came to the surface simultaneously and like a mass jail break, they broke free together and laid siege to my soul.
Her name is Natalie Matson and on that day in May, she saved my life. She told me that I was suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder. She called it PTSD. The words meant nothing to me for I had never heard of such a thing. I just knew that I carried a deep hurt within me and I had been stuffing it back down inside with Jack Daniels for so many years. I wanted to be a good husband. I desperately wanted to be a good father. Some force was holding me down in chains. I have heard that you hit your bottom when you throw the shovel down and quit digging. I threw that shovel all the way back to An Loc.
She told me that the only way I could deal with Vietnam was sober. I had no idea of what she was talking about. We sat and talked for over an hour. I told her of Herman. I told her about Teddy Jones. She listened. We made an appointment for the following week and she asked me if I could go that long without a drink or a drug.
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. She told me to try it one day at a time. Today I have close to ten thousand one-days-at-a-time clean and sober. I got hooked into the Vet Center and all of the programs that they offer. I spent the last two years of the 80’s and almost all of 1989 attending de-briefing groups. I did this group and that group and any sponsored event. I found my new platoon in that group of Vietnam Veterans attempting to stay sober and work through PTSD. There were no secrets among us. Some of us made it. Some of us did not. As in Vietnam, some of us died. Our team leader was himself a combat veteran. Ed Carrillo guided us through our trauma. Gradually the demons were replaced with thoughts of hope. We found that in helping each other, we helped ourselves. Within my first three weeks out of the Army, I became a life-member of Vietnam Veterans Against The War. I remain active in VVAW to this day.
I was driving down the street one day and I saw my buddy, Tim, a former medic with the 101st Airborne, walking out of a gun shop with his six-year-old son. I made a U-turn and pulled up next to him and we slapped hands and smiled, and Tim looked like he didn’t have a problem to his name. I left him standing on the curb smiling with his boy and went on my way. The next day they told me that he went straight home and blew his brains out right in front of his son. This is PTSD.
Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in this country. If this book helps touch one life, it has done its job.
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: A Word withYou Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Raw Mans 1st Review!
Politicians sold us the Vietnam War as a just war, a necessary war. A massive stack of well researched books has since debunked the blatant lies and warped thinking which led us into that war.
Fred Rivera’s Raw Man, stripped of all the usual machismo and chest-thumping hero worshiping faux patriotism one often finds in personal accounts of soldiering, gives a brutally honest, soul searing glimpse into the reality of that most stupid of wars, and what it did to the bodies and minds of those who were so callously exploited to serve such dubious imperatives.
As an Australian soldier at the time (and therefore ally of the US), I served in Vietnam with the 9th Battalion Royal Australian (Infantry) Regiment,1968-69, first as a machine gunner and later as an instructor with a Mobile Advisory Training Team training ARVN forces. After reading Raw Man, all I can say is: “Wow!!! Fred Rivera told it like it was, man!”
~ Gerry Binder
Australian Veterans For Peace
Fred Rivera was born in East Los Angeles, raised in Montebello, and currently lives in Murrieta, California, with his wife of over forty years, Lynda. Together they have raised raised three wonderful children, Andrew, Marissa and Nathan. Writing and publishing Raw Man is a natural extension of his volunteer work with the sober community of Temecula, and with various organizations nationwide focused on supporting veterans and their families grappling with the lingering effects of war, PTSD. Despite living in constant pain, Fred is devoted to living a creative, joyful life, counting on the other constant in his life… the loving support of his friends and family.
Join Fred on Facebook @ Fred Rivera or log on to rawmanthebook.com
WE ARE INDEBTED TO THOSE WHO GAVE…
…To Publish Raw Man
Funding for the publication of Raw Man was made possible by all of you listed here, who accepted our invitation on Kickstarter to be part of this victory.
“I dedicate this on behalf of my father, James R. Cranston, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.), 7th Air Force HQ, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam.”
Lauren Marie Salcido
Renee Nicole Whitfield
“I dedicate this on behalf of Chester W. Sloan, WWII veteran.”
“I dedicate this on behalf of all the innocent civilian war casualties and all the mistreated veterans who are overlooked and forgotten after the war. And on behalf of my mother, I am obliged to dedicate this to her father who served in the Viet Nam War, Charles E. Auge. I don’t know his rank, but I do know, if he never served in the war, I would not be here today.”
Alma Delacruz Gossman
“I donate on behalf of all of our men and women who serve our country. ”
Michael L Sawyer
“I dedicate this donation to All that have served.”
Pamella M. Bowen
Raymond and Christi Lacoste
Jeannie Meador Chandler
“I donate on behalf of Spec. 4 Harry Maker.”
Michelle Bushner Wise
“I donate on behalf of all the veterans that I’ve worked with and my grandfather, a veteran from WWII.”
Jeffrey D. Urbina
“I donate on behalf of my father, Artillery Capt. Langdon Sully, US Army WWII, Solomon Islands.”
Deanna Paige Uranga
“I dedicate this on behalf of Major General Smedley Butler, who, by the time of his death, had become not only the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, but also this nation’s most important ‘whistleblower’ regarding the true business objectives driving its bloody wars, occupations and interventions.”
“I dedicate this on behalf of all those who serve.”
Patricia C. Lowery
“Dedicated to this Raw Man project and to the people the book is about.”
Sgt. Michael Whitfield and Cpl. Renee Whitfield
“I donate in honor of Edward James Olmos – aka Admiral Adama.”
Marie Therese Stone
Frank and Cathy Merickel
“I donate on behalf of John Janes.”
“I contribution on behalf of Jake, Grace, and Julia Rivera.”
“I donate on behalf of our son-in-law, Chad Folds, currently serving. ”
Michael J. Martin
“I donate on behalf of George Paul Lazaris.”
“I donate with best wishes for Fred Rivera.”
“I donate on behalf of all Veterans and Shovel Head Ed, the guy who carries around a ball peen hammer to tune up nuts!”
“I cannot thank you enough for your sacrifices for our abundant freedoms, and I wish you, Fred, and your family, good health and happiness.”
“I donate in honor of Frank Alvarez, Red Bull Battalion, 34th Infantry WWII.”
“I donate on behalf of PFC Michael Roth, USMC., Vietnam War 1970-71.”
John Hager, SSgt., Air Force Viet Nam 69-70 & 71-72.
“This is to all of us that suffer in silence, God Bless all of US!”
Martin & Tiffany Vakilian
“In honor of my father John E. Lawrence, USN, who enlisted at age 17 and is sole living survivor of the USS Henley that was torpedoed by the Japanese. He served and fought in WWII, KOREA and VIETNAM. Now residing in Vista, CA and just celebrated his 90th birthday January this year.”
Freddy Rivera (Fred Jr.)
Robert & Paula Gomez
J. Dow Covey, Cpt, US Army
Frank S. Herrara
“I donate in honor of Dan Chadwick, CMSgt., US Air Force, Korea”
“I donate on behalf of my father, 1Sgt. John H. Mullens, Jr. (Ret.) and the 2-70th Armor “Aces of Death”.”
“In honor of my Uncle Fred Rivera- so proud of you.”
“I donate in honor of cabin crew of UA 93.”
“I donate on behalf of Evert Raymond Curtis Sr., Evert Raymond Curtis Jr., Charles Travers, Walter Ray Travers.”
“Thank you to all Veterans and current men and women serving in our country’s military. God bless you all.”
“Thank you, Fred, and all of you have served in our armed forces!”
“Dedicated to Vets everywhere.”
Jim St. John
“I donate to honor vets everywhere.”
“Peace to the Veterans who served our Country.”
“To all those who responded to the call.”
“I donate in honor of vets everywhere.”
“To current and past vets.”
“With pride, in honor of my brother Fred Rivera, U.S. Army, Blackhorse Cavalry Division.”
“Thanks to my BROTHER Gary Clark a member of the USAF during the Viet Nam era. He has helped me and other veterans through his personal counseling as well as his writing. He has encouraged me to be my best after war. THANKS BROTHER!!”
(editor’s note: Gary Clark was a true friend to all veterans, and a member of our staff at A Word with You Press. Gary died of cancer as “Raw Man” was in the final stages of editing before going to press. At Fred’s heartfelt suggestion, a true character in the book was given Gary’s name so that Gary will remain with us all in spirit, and wink at us when we come across his name.)
Catherine Kelly Baird
“For my amazing husband Monty Baird “the Sarge”–a true brother to Fred and all Vietnam vets.
“Dedicated to vets everywhere.”
Robert L Brieda
“In memory of Sgt. Eric Williams, US Army Medic, KIA Afghanistan, July 23, 2012 Operation Freedom – Dustoff.”
Tom Noriega, USCG 1984-1988.
“Thanks to all the men and women who have served and sacrificed. ”
“Dedicated to William Watkins, US Army Rangers (ret.) & Anthony Sink, US Army (ret.)”
“To all who have served.”
Eva Westfall, USN Ret.
“Dedicated to my Father, my Brother and to all other Veterans that have sacrificed so much for our country and our freedom.”
Edward James Olmos
“Dedicated to my brother Peter Olmos, for his service in the United States Marine Core.”
“Dedicated to my Father – Dr. Alson W. Modert, MD – Navy Hospital Apprentice First Class USNR – WWII – Deceased.”
“Dedication: Marian C. Spaulding, Yeoman Second Class,1942-1944.”
“I donate in honor of Fred Rivera’s fallen comrade, Herman Johnson.”
“I donate on behalf of myself, my father, and my grandfather: PO2 Walter L. Savell III USN Ret., LCDR Walter L. Savell Jr. USNR WWII Arlington, COL Walter L. Savell Sr. USA,WWII Arlington.”
Several of our donors chose to remain anonymous.
Thank you all from Fred Rivera, Lynda Rivera, and the entire staff at A Word with You Press.
Tiffany Monique, Diana Diehl, Derek Thompson, Morgan Sully, Gary Clark, Teri Rider, Billy Holder, Kristine Tsasakos, Thornton Sully, and project associates Robert Kahn and Scott Siedman