WAVES became the training conference for all schools certifying officials under the umbrella of the Muskogee Regional Processing Office in 1996.
Before the organization became WAVES, the Muskogee VA Staff in conjunction with members of the Oklahoma Association of Veteran Counselors and Coordinators, hosted the first conference in Tulsa Oklahoma.
As registration opened for the first conference, the organizers waited, hoping that there would be an interest among SCO’S in the surrounding states.
The treasurer was so excited when the first conference registration appeared, a call was made to the VA Staff with the happy news, “Someone registered!!”
That year there were approximately 80 SCO’s in attendance. A Contest was set forth for the SCO’s to come up with a name for this new organization. One of the schools certifying officials, Leslie Lewis from Tulsa Community College came up with the winner and from those humble beginnings the organization officially became known as “Western Association of Veterans Education Specialists” in 1998, better known as WAVES.
Kay Krasovetz from El Paso Community College was elected as the first WAVES President, bylaws were drafted, and the organization was then officially underway.
During those early years, the annual WAVES conference was held in Oklahoma every three years. When in Oklahoma, a day was set aside for attendees to take a guided tour of the Muskogee Regional Processing Center, meet RPO staff members and put faces to the voices they would hear when they called into the toll-free phone line.
Local SCO’s would serve as tour guides/narrators on the bus ride to and from Muskogee – telling their fellow SCO’s the history of Oklahoma, pointing out the sights along the way and providing light entertainment.
Dick Jennings from Rose State College and Jake Chanate from Northeastern State University Tahlequah Oklahoma were some of the favorite guides during those early trips.
These tours were the highlight for many conference attendees and something they looked forward to in the old “Oklahoma” years.
VA staff went out of their way to make all conference attendees feel welcome and make each SCO an honorary “Okie from Muskogee”.
WAVES conference attendance has grown throughout the years. WAVES has held conferences in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Nevada and of course Oklahoma.
Lifelong friendships have developed between SCO’s across the Western Region and Nationwide.
The level of training offered to school officials by the Muskogee Regional Processing office staff, which has now been passed on to the National Training Team, has been first rate.
The knowledge that is being passed on to the certifying officials would then be used when they return to their respective campuses, to be better prepared to serve their student veteran population.