Quote from dropRN
I'm a military wife too and from my experience, applying through registry or as a contractor works. I applied so many times at usajobs and I only got interviewed once and never got hired. I also have spouse preference but never worked for me too.
Another one here...small world.
Spouse preference usually kicks in when all other things are equal (or thereabouts) between you and other applicants. It won't make up for 2 years' of experience the other applicant has and that the OP lacks. And of course, you have to meet certain requirements to be eligible: being married to someone in the military is in itself not enough to qualify. Here's some reading material:
Federal Jobs: What You Need to Know | Military.com
Military Spouse Preference for Federal Jobs | Military Spouse
That being said, OP can still apply for government jobs because you never know.
From my own experience, I agree with you in that registries would a good option...if the OP had previous experience. Most registries won't take on inexperienced nurses.
OP: Try applying to whatever you can before you resort to a refresher course. You may also want to look outside the acute care hospital box for that first job. There's nothing wrong with starting off in long-term acute care (LTAC), rehab, LTC, clinics, offices, etc. It's nursing experience, which would be more helpful getting into you a hospital than if you didn't have any experience.