The 53 black, green and white U.S. flags flying in front of the Garden City Funeral home in Missoula, have left many commuters wondering what they represent. Ed Lesofski from the Rural Institute for Veteran’s Education and Research explains.

"We put up a memorial to remind people about the veteran's suicide crisis we're having here in Missoula," Lesofski said. "Missoula is the top suicide place in the state of Montana for veterans and Montana is at the top of the states per-capita."

The color of the flags is intentional, as is the number. The 53 flags are based on a morbidity study that was conducted in Montana over the past two years.

"The flags are tactical, with a green stripe on them,' said Lesofski. "The green stripe denotes a green star family, which is a family that has had a veteran kill themselves. Out of 26 months,  Missoula had 18 suicides and, in total, Montana had 53 suicides, so almost half of all the veteran suicides occurred here in Missoula."

Laskowski says one of the best things people can do to help, is to reach out and make contact with veterans, wish them “happy holidays” and make sure they know that there are people that support them.

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