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      Push for virtual school students in military ranks

      Wednesday's meeting with Supt. Mick Zais and Rep. Joe Wilson. / Cheryn Stone

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson and State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais want changes in a policy they say puts students who attend virtual schools at a disadvantage when they want to join the military.

      Wilson says 18-year-old Jared Dennis of Lexington wants to enlist in the Air Force but his attendance at a virtual charter school in Columbia puts him behind students who graduate from regular high schools.

      Air Force officials say they are planning to recruit 27,000 people this fiscal year, and a Pentagon policy requires they put traditional high school students ahead of those in the virtual ranks.

      Wilson, a Republican, told Dennis at a meeting Wednesday he will seek legislation requiring the Pentagon to change its policy when he gets back to Washington.

      "The young people of our country are dedicated, they are committed, very capable and I want them to have the privilege and opportunity of serving their country," Wilson said.

      Wilson says he's working to put this issue in the National Defense Authorization Act.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)