As an Army veteran, Doug Frampton understands what it feels like when someone recognizes those who have served in the armed forces.
So with his 26 years in the military, he brings a unique vision to his role as the Petaluma Elks Lodge veterans' events coordinator.
The lodge has organized several events this year to benefit local veterans, active service members and their families. And Frampton, 65, with 18 years of service with the Elks, is at the center of the action.
On Veterans Appreciation Night last month, the lodge hosted 175 veterans from the Veterans Home of Yountville. After dinner, the veterans were presented with goodie bags full of treats — and two pairs of a specially requested luxury item: wool socks.
"It's really important to let these guys know there are a bunch of people out here who really do care," said Frampton, a longtime Petaluma resident.
Other volunteers made lap covers for every vet who uses a wheelchair.
"Sometimes for some of these guys, we're all they have," Frampton said. "They look forward to coming to Petaluma every year because of our dinner."
The private fraternal organization, with almost 1,300 local members, hosts dozens of fundraisers every year to benefit veterans groups, student scholarships, disabled children, youth sports teams and more.
After the federal government, the Elks are the second-largest contributor to educational scholarships nationwide. Each year, the local lodge honors schoolkids who won essay contests on themes that include patriotism and community involvement.
Frampton, after retiring in the mid-1990s, began looking for something productive to do with his extra time. He found the Elks and fit right in.
"It's just a lot of fun," he said. "They are some of the best people I know."
A few years ago, he said, the Yountville wheelchair drill team came to the lodge for dinner. They all loved the American-flag shirts Frampton and others wear for special occasions.