Click below to listen to Freds interview on the Mid Day edition of KPBS

Raw Man The Book

Fred and Herman

Raw Man cover Dec 1

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: A Word withYou Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0988464632
ISBN-13: 978-0988464636
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.

Raw Man cover Dec 1

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: A Word withYou Press; First Edition edition (January 15, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0988464632
ISBN-13: 978-0988464636
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

Book Release Party and Dedications



…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.

M.M. Cranston

“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

Steve McDonald

Dante Puccetti

Sally Pla

John Westfall

Eva Westfall

Renee Nicole Whitfield

Lisa Ramirez

Victoria Starr

Elizabeth Sloan

“I dedicate this on behalf of Chester W. Sloan, WWII veteran.”

Cathy Sempol

Mike Wall

Andrea Travers

Helene Leonard

Miceal Kelly

Dick Cummins

Chris Anderson

Connie Nguyen

“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.”

Carin Johnson-Kragler

Alma Delacruz Gossman

Ronald Sandate

Margaret Southern

Amanda Mullens

Kenneth Weene

Lynn Buettner

“I donate on behalf of all of our men and women who serve our country. ”

Sue Wong

Michael L Sawyer

“I dedicate this donation to All that have served.”

Austin Storm

Pamella M. Bowen

Raymond and Christi Lacoste

Amanda Byzak

Jeannie Meador Chandler

Don Maker

“I donate on behalf of Spec. 4 Harry Maker.”

Rob Swofford

Michelle Bushner Wise

Nicholas Fortuna

Kimberly Stanphill

“I donate on behalf of all the veterans that I’ve worked with and my grandfather, a veteran from WWII.”

Jeffrey D. Urbina

Nancy Milby

Robert Hill

Thornton Sully

“I donate on behalf of my father, Artillery Capt. Langdon Sully, US Army WWII, Solomon Islands.”

Harry Caldwell

Jesse Smith

Deanna Paige Uranga

Sable Jordan

Kim Hoedeman

Jess Cotton

Jeff Semones

Brian Meredith

“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.”

Chynna Barron

Jay Nomura

Patricia Oppelt

Bunnie Rivera

“I dedicate this on behalf of all those who serve.”

Therese Pontrelli

Patricia C. Lowery

Russell Shor

Richard Urick

Jasper Langedijk

“Dedicated to this Raw Man project and to the people the book is about.”

Sgt. Michael Whitfield and Cpl. Renee Whitfield

James Williams

“I donate in honor of Edward James Olmos – aka Admiral Adama.”

Jill Anfinson

Annie Drake

Wendy Joseph

Marie Therese Stone

Frank and Cathy Merickel

Courtney Janes

“I donate on behalf of John Janes.”

Kimberly Persiani

Tom McDermond

Ryan Rivera

“I contribution on behalf of Jake, Grace, and Julia Rivera.”

Lisa Southwick

Alexander Franco

Cheryl Davis

“I donate on behalf of our son-in-law, Chad Folds, currently serving. ”

Holly Ryno

Judy Olmos

Michael J. Martin

Thomas Dahl

Cynthis Lazaris

“I donate on behalf of George Paul Lazaris.”

Brian Fiala

Kaija Keel

Bernd Kistenmacher

“I donate with best wishes for Fred Rivera.”

Helene Leonard

Jonathan Trujillo

Cameron Hamilton

“I donate on behalf of all Veterans and Shovel Head Ed, the guy who carries around a ball peen hammer to tune up nuts!”

Barry Drucker

“I cannot thank you enough for your sacrifices for our abundant freedoms, and I wish you, Fred, and your family, good health and happiness.”

Kristine Starr

James Caouette

Vivian Alvarez

“I donate in honor of Frank Alvarez, Red Bull Battalion, 34th Infantry WWII.”

Kayla Roth

“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

Jason Lawrence

“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.)

Alfredo Ballesteros

Robert & Paula Gomez

J. Dow Covey, Cpt, US Army

Sharon Johnson

Frank  S. Herrara

Chris Davis

“I donate in honor of Dan Chadwick, CMSgt., US Air Force, Korea”

Lisa Ramirez

Amanda Mullens

“I donate on behalf of my father, 1Sgt. John H. Mullens, Jr. (Ret.) and the 2-70th Armor “Aces of Death”.”

Wendy Manning

“In honor of my Uncle Fred Rivera- so proud of you.”

Mike Casper

“I donate in honor of cabin crew of UA 93.”

Scott Travers

“I donate on behalf of Evert Raymond Curtis Sr., Evert Raymond Curtis Jr., Charles Travers, Walter Ray Travers.”

Nico Loeff

“Thank you to all Veterans and current men and women serving in our country’s military. God bless you all.”

Gerald Arriloa

John Salcido

“Thank you, Fred, and all of you have served in our armed forces!”

Wayne Bosna

“Dedicated to Vets everywhere.”

Jim St. John

“I donate to honor vets everywhere.”

Niles Nicholson

“Peace to the Veterans who served our Country.”

Craig Albert

“To all those who responded to the call.”

William Rodriguez

“I donate in honor of vets everywhere.”

Josie Noriega

Lance Goto

“To current and past vets.”

Barbara Briones

“With pride, in honor of my brother Fred Rivera, U.S. Army, Blackhorse Cavalry Division.”

Jerry Clark

“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.

Lee Mentley


John Fortuna

“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. ”

Alex B

“Loretta Pellem,”

“Dedicated to William Watkins, US Army Rangers (ret.) & Anthony Sink, US Army (ret.)”

John Westfall

“To all who have served.”

Eva Westfall, USN Ret.

Wheeler Baker

“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.”

Anthony Salcido

Parisianne Modert

“Dedicated to my Father – Dr. Alson W. Modert, MD – Navy Hospital Apprentice First Class USNR – WWII – Deceased.”

Kyle Katz

Michael Stang

“Dedication: Marian C. Spaulding, Yeoman Second Class,1942-1944.”

Stephanie Allison

Marie Panlilio

Laura Girardeau

“I donate in honor of Fred Rivera’s fallen comrade, Herman Johnson.”

Albert Foster

Walter Savell

“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